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A not-so-quiet week for the Pacers leading up to Draft Combine Week in Chicago
Plus, my thoughts on news and moves from around the NBA.
So much for a quiet week leading into NBA Draft Combine Week. There was news on all fronts.
It started with the Pacers announcing their plans for the Mad Ants to officially move to Indy and play home games at a new arena in Noblesville, Ind. It continued with Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who I had not seen at an event post-pandemic, being back at the team facility and attending the first pre-draft workout.
And then Aaron Nesmith took a two-seater ride and was shown around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Pato O’Ward on Saturday prior to the Grand Prix.
On top of all that, the Pacers held their first of two optional development weeks with the young guys. The second one is scheduled for the week of June 12.
By my count, based on photos on the Pacers’ Instagram, there were nine players involved: Haliburton, Mathurin, Nembhard, Duarte, Nwora, Smith, Jackson, Brown … and Daniel Theis.
So of the 13 players under contract for next season, only Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, T.J. McConnell and Nesmith were not present (at least, according to photos).
Minus Nesmith, those are the vets and they have a well-established offseason routine by now. (And, as you read above, Nesmith was in town so perhaps he was there.)
Meanwhile, Theis is ramping up training ahead of playing in the World Cup with Germany.
So… all of that was just news with the Pacers.
The NBA Playoffs have been narrowed down to the final four and, notably, it’s the same four as 2020 in the Orlando bubble. Celtics vs Heat and Nuggets vs Lakers.
Looking ahead, it’s a big week for teams in the lottery as they will receive clarification on where they’ll be drafting on Tuesday evening in Chicago, home of the draft lottery. I will be there to provide you with on-the-ground reporting and I look forward to seeing how this plays out. Especially at the top with everyone enamored with French sensation Victor Wembanyama.
One franchise is going to be very, very fortunate.
The Pacers have FIVE selections on June 22, but two are unknown until Tuesday evening: Their lottery pick and one second-round pick — with quite a bit of difference.
It’s either 32 (via Houston) or 50 (via Miami).
Once those are known, we can truly dive into which players and trades make sense. Before then, it’s just a bunch of words.
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Congratulations to T.J. McConnell’s dad, Tim, on his decision to resign from coaching after 29 seasons. The McConnell family is full of coaches and he’s had a storied career in the Pittsburgh area.
Tim, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “I think I’ve just realized it’s time to step away to see my daughter play more and see T.J. more. In eight years that T.J. has been in the NBA, I’ve only seen him play live only 20-some times. I’ve missed a lot because of coaching. I want to be around them the next two years.”
Tim also shared that T.J. and his wife, Valerie, are expecting their second child in September.
The 76ers’ showing in that critical game, with a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line, reiterated why I’ve never been a believer in this team despite their regular-season success. They have too many flaws and have never put it together when it matters most. Since the start of #TheProcess, they’ve yet to reach the conference finals. Consider that…
Also, what was Flamingo Guy Matt Asen doing at the game? That was … odd.
I was disappointed to see new Suns owner Mat Ishbia make a rash decision a few days after they were beat by the Nuggets. Fire Monty Williams, one of the top head coaches? He was the Coach of the Year in 2022, should’ve won in 2021 and they more games than any team over the last three years. Although they just traded depth and future draft picks, they got Kevin Durant. There’s several things that need to be organized and sorted out, but that group barely spent much time together. They were down Chris Paul for most of the series and not only did Deandre Ayton miss the final game, he was a limited contributor in the series.
My first thought after a head coach is fired always goes to those who reported to him. Assistants, video guys, behind-the-scenes folks, etc. They don’t make millions of dollars and there’s fierce competition for jobs. It's a cruel business.
Another team is going to be very fortunate to land Williams, by the way. One of the ultimate good guys in the NBA.
The four openings are good ones: Phoenix, Milwaukee, Toronto and Detroit. (Is Philadelphia next?)
Ja Morant needs a long period of self-reflection after being seeing on a second Instagram Live with a gun in his hand. It starts internally — and he’s just 23 — but he must consider his priorities and then who he surrounds himself with… Do they have his best interest? He’s bound to be suspended for the first month or two of next season, costing him millions. But he could cost himself much more, both personally and with endorsement deals (Nike, Powerade, etc.)
The Grizzlies suspending him “from all team activities pending League review” is um, interesting, considering there are no official team activities until August. But what this really does is get out in front about this, and then wait for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to act. Because he must. The league is watching.
I’m interested to see how much Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski is involved, and how he contributes to the NBA, after being hired as a special adviser.
I had a good time doing radio last Wednesday and Thursday, co-hosting the mid-day show on 93.5/107.5 The Fan. I hope you were able to catch parts of it. I continue to do more at the station, including track updates at IMS on Tuesday.
Congrats to the Pacers’ TV crew for receiving seven Emmy nominations. There’s a lot of very good people involved who provide you with the sights + sounds.
I watched “Air” on Prime Video and really enjoyed it. Matt Damon was phenomenal as Sonny Vaccaro. Michael Jordan’s mother was portrayed very well, as the leader and protector of the family, whereas agent David Falk won’t want to watch it. They were … harsh.
Lastly, I’m disappointed in Elon and Twitter right now. They are not playing ball with Substack and not allowing tweets to be embedding on here. I don’t know how this is good/smart business, but I hope he comes to his senses. He wants to be for content creators, but this only hurts us and our readers. So, for now, I can only link to outside content not embed.