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Mark's Mailbag: The (Sort-Of) Offseason Edition

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

June 27, 2013

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Due to league-wide restrictions on talking about free agents during this time of year, some of the questions were edited to exclude any reference to free agents. If this is one of your questions, we thank you for your opinion, but we are forbidden from writing about specific free agents until the signing period begins. Thank you.

Q. At the end of the Pacers-Knicks series, the Pacers' starting five sat and had a press conference together – something that I had never seen before. Has that ever been done in the NBA before, or any other sports? I think, the Pacers should continue that trend, win or lose. The starting should come up to the podium together and answer questions. That will show them as a unit.

Also, I think Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh or Reggie Miller should talk to Lance Stephenson; he cannot be going to strip club after what happened to a former Pacers point guard who almost got killed after people followed him and shot at him, because of a stupid argument that started inside a strip club. Another, Stephen Jackson, had to protect himself against a mob by shooting in the air. I do not think Indiana Pacers fans want to go through that again.

- Romane, “Greatest Reggie Miller Fan” in South Orange, NJ

A. The starters shared that press conference at the suggestion of George Hill. Lance Stephenson had scored 25 points, so he was an obvious invite, but others had played well, too, and that game was that team's greatest moment. I also wonder if the players didn't want to take some of the “pressure” of dealing with an entire press conference off of Stephenson, who had never done one by himself.

I don't recall a Pacers team doing it before, but I'm sure others have. It only works for basketball, obviously, because it would be a little difficult to get a starting unit from a football or baseball team together at a table. It looked good, and seemed appropriate for that group. David West gave a great answer when I asked him about the fact each of the starters had led the team in scoring in at least one game during that series, and the fact all five starters were on hand emphasized the point.

However, it really is better for reporters to have individual access to players. The time is limited for postgame press conferences in the playoffs because there's usually someone else scheduled to come in later. You can gather more information in the locker room. The press conferences are mostly for national television or for reporters on a tight deadline.

I agree with your point on Stephenson. It's not illegal to go to a club, but the Pacers know all too well how things can go wrong when players visit certain places, whether they are at fault or not. I'm guessing someone brought up that point. Still, it's a touchy issue because a team can only have so much control over what a player does off the court if he's not breaking laws.

Q. Frank's an excellent coach, but I think he fell into the tight playoff rotation pattern that most coaches do, relying on your horses to get you through. But I think that really played against our strengths and led to us having tired starters at the end of some of the games.

While Green and Mahinmi were problematic, and Tyler, well Tyler, I thought Orlando and Jeff Pendergraph were playing excellent ball at the end of the season and deserved to get some minutes. Our depth should have been one of our advantages and we should have run them into the ground with waves of fresh legs.

Instead, we tightened our rotation to where the Heat were able to play their tired BIGGER stars against our tired stars.

Too bad IMO.

What do you think?

- MikeB

A. That's a dilemma for any coach. You want your best players on the court in the playoffs, but you want them to be rested, too. Miami used its bench more than the Pacers in that series, but then Miami's bench included more proven, veteran players such as Ray Allen.

I think Frank would have used his reserves more if he had more confidence in them, but I also don't believe fatigue cost the Pacers the series. They simply weren't ready for the moment in Game 7 because of their relative youth, and their lack of experience in that kind of situation. Miami was the better team.

It would have been difficult to throw a rookie such as Orlando Johnson into that kind of situation. He played very well for awhile after the All-Star break, but his shooting dropped off late in the regular season. He hit just 4-of-26 shots over the final six regular season games, which no doubt curbed the coaches' confidence in playing him in playoff games. Pendergraph usually played well when given a chance, and was a factor in Game 2 against Atlanta, but he's a far greater risk than David West unless West is exhausted.

I've heard varying opinions on whether the Pacers' bench was better last season than in the previous one. I was not around the team much two seasons ago, so I don't have a valid opinion. But it's safe to say the bench will be a major emphasis again this summer. It will have to be, as some of the backups are free agents.

Q. What are the chances of us drafting Peyton Siva? I believe he could well be a steal in the second round, especially at the 53rd pick. He may be undersized, but his competitive drive and energy would be great to have coming off the bench with the second unit. He's been improving his assist-to-turnover ratio as his career has been going on. The ability to drive and get his own shot would open up the floor for everyone else. He could possibly improve our 22nd overall ranking in three-point shooting.

The Danny Granger ordeal has to be tiresome by now. I believe the organization is looking for answers when they have the answer right here the whole time. Granger has said he knows he's not as young as he was, and knows the team is about the youth right now, and would be willing to take a backseat. Not exact words, but a summary. I take it as he's willing to come off the bench as the sixth man. He would be a more than capable scoring option to help boost what we were missing. He could drop 20 points on any given night, and help out with his long-range shooting to spread the floor. I don't believe the Pacers will get anything near his true value by trading him anytime before the trade deadline. He is truly the missing piece.

Instead of worrying about the contract of Granger, the team should cut ties with overpriced players who don't make any impact. Gerald Green, Jeff Pendergraph, Miles Plumlee, Ian Mahinmi, and Ben Hansbrough should be on the block, trying to clear space. Green is a proven scorer, but the way Indy runs its offense, it just doesn't mesh. Ian moves nice for a big, but at that price I think we could get someone a little better. Basically Ian, Green, and Pendergraph's contracts could collectively be put together for a mid-level player in the 7 million range, I believe.

- Chris

Peyton Siva has worked out for the Pacers and is a legitimate candidate for their second-round pick, but keep in mind now rarely late second-round picks even make a roster. The Pacers have had a few from that range do well, however, such as Antonio Davis (45), Fred Hoiberg (52), James Jones (49) and A.J. Price (52). Lance Stephenson was the 40th pick. Still, the odds are always against a player from the second round surviving a cut.

Siva was the starting point guard on an NCAA championship team, so that counts for something. He's athletic enough and seems to be a natural leader, but lacks a consistent perimeter shot. He wouldn't improve the Pacers' three-point ranking as you suggest, because he hit less than 30 percent of his shots from the college line last season. He is the kind of player who could turn out to be a savvy second-round pick, and some mock drafts have had him going to the Pacers. But he wouldn't be likely to have an immediate impact for whatever team he joins, and the Pacers are in a win-now mode.

I agree with your assessment of Granger. He said in the locker room following the Game 7 loss to Miami that he expects to be 100 percent next season, and that he anticipates starting again. If that happens, it obviously would be a good thing for the team. The starting lineup would be longer, more experienced and shoot better, while the bench, with Lance Stephenson on it, would instantly become better. That will work itself out as the season goes along, though, so there's really not much point in debating it now. We don't know for sure what Granger's health status will be, first of all.

It's interesting, though, how many people think Granger should be traded now. You aren't going to get much in return because of his recent knee injuries, and he could be exactly what the team needs. If he had played his career for another team, people would be excited to acquire him. He shouldn't be viewed differently because he's already here. His contract also seems to fit well within the team salary structure, because he has one year left at just over $14 million and that money can be used to sign Paul George next year. That's not to say Granger couldn't be re-signed, but it obviously would be at a lesser salary.

As for the players you want to clear out, you're in danger of plunging into the deep end on that one. It's certainly likely that not all of the players you mentioned will be on the roster next season, but it would be foolish to dump Plumlee when he hasn't played enough yet to know how good he might be. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the 26th pick in the draft had to wait his turn behind three more experienced power forwards. He'll likely get more opportunity next season.

As for trading a few of them for a proven veteran, would you do that deal if you were on the other side of it? You can always get “decent” players. It's much more difficult to get really good ones. So, most teams won't trade a really good one for a few decent ones unless there's an extenuating circumstance.

Q. I've always been interested in how players act off the court. The Pacers are my team. #pacersnation. I would love to know how some pacers players act. Maybe a personality review? I as well as others would like to know some more about my team. For instance, Paul George. I'd love to know about his personal feelings throughout this season. And not just the generalized stuff, but in-depth things us fans never think about that. I'd definitely read that article.

- Valerie.

A. It's difficult to know what you're wanting to learn about the players. Various websites and publications write profiles of athletes all the time. I wrote a long one on Paul George during the season, for example. But it's not practical to follow them around and get their thoughts on various topics as they come up. I guess that's what Twitter is for. Feel free to pass along the kind of things you're interested in.

Q. I am a fan of Pacers. I have a question. Pacers next season. Will I see Hill, George, Granger, West, Hibbert together in the game?

A. If Granger can return healthy enough to play, yes. I think that's the most likely starting lineup. But, as I stated previously, it will work itself out in training camp and early in the season.

Q. I did some research on George McGinnis' regular season ABA triple-doubles. According to the Sporting News Guide, McGinnis' career high for assists in the regular season was 8 prior to the 1974-75 season. Based on rebound and assist averages in his final ABA season, I estimate that he had about 7-8 triple-doubles (and in case you are wondering about his NBA career, he had seven there).

This is what I was able to find of the Pacers ABA triple-doubles:

Roger Brown @ LAS 3/25/69 45 Pts 11 Reb 10 Ast W 140-124
George McGinnis @ NYN 11/01/74 25 Pts 18 Reb 10 Ast W 99-97
George McGinnis vs DEN 11/06/74 20 Pts 11 Ast W 136-116 (missing rebounds info)
George McGinnis vs SAS 12/18/74 45 Pts 17 Reb 10 Ast W 128-122
George McGinnis vs VIR 2/13/75 26 Pts 15 Reb 10 Ast W 107-105
George McGinnis vs SDC 2/24/75 41 Pts 25 Reb 13 Ast W 120-108

- Nikola

A. Thank you for checking. Someone would have to go through all the box scores manually to get a completely accurate count, but that's interesting. I would have guessed McGinnis would have had more than that during the regular season. As you know, assists weren't kept in the early years of the ABA, so it's impossible to get a completely accurate total.

McGinnis put up some numbers, didn't he? Not a bad game against the Conquistadors – 41 points, 25 rebounds, 13 assists. I checked my newspaper clipping of that game. The Q's were a bad team, and the article said the Pacers spent the fourth quarter running their offense through him so that he could get past 40 points and set a personal assist record. He hit 16-of-34 shots in that game, and 11 of his rebounds were offensive.

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