Pritchard and Team Officials Ready for Test
June 25, 2013
The pre-draft workouts are now complete, phone calls are rapidly buzzing in, and the Pacers scouting department is shuffling through their binders ahead of draft night on Thursday. They already have a working draft board, but the situation is fluid.
The Pacers worked out almost 50 players over the last month, including seven sessions with media availability. They brought in all types of talent – point guards and elite scorers to power forwards and unfamiliar overseas prospects.
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With the 23rd pick, which team officials aren’t opposed to moving for the right deal, they can still get a player that fills a need and hopefully cracks the rotation.
“Every single year, you look at the draft and on average there are seven or eight really special players,” said Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard on Tuesday. “And then you have a lot of guys that can be starters and rotation players. And it’s about trying to find that diamond in the rough when you’re picking at 23. You’re not getting the top guys but you can still get a good player that can be a part of the program and help us win.”
A player’s character is of the upmost importance to the Pacers. They currently have a roster full of stand-up guys both on the floor and in the community. Coming off a season where the chemistry was the best it’s been in over a decade, Pritchard said character remains No. 1 in their book.
“If you’re not a good kid, you’re not going to be an Indiana Pacer,” he said.
This will be the first draft where Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard will work hand in hand. Walsh ultimately has final say. Larry Bird directed the 2012 draft, in which the Pacers selected Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson, before stepping down as team president.
Pritchard was in on a draft night deal last June with Sacramento. The Pacers sent the Kings a couple million dollars to move up and select Johnson at 36. Pritchard, who will make and field calls from other teams, is known for wheeling and dealing.
“We know within a couple players where we’re at with picking 23,” he said. “There’s still a lot of variables that goes into that because there’s move up, there’s move out and there’s move down.
“We want somebody that fits what we’re about, that can come in and can maybe crack our rotation. … We think that there’s a diamond in the rough.”
Being in the position they were this past season, one win away from the Finals, trading the pick for an experienced player that fills a need is an intriguing option. The Pacers are chasing a championship now, rather than rebuilding like they were a handful of years ago. That’s why free agency, which begins July 1 is critical. Again on Tuesday, Pritchard reiterated that David West is their guy and that they intend to do everything they can to re-sign him.
"For us and where we’re at, and trying to be one of the better teams in the East, we know July 1 is even more important,” he said.
Prospects will be debated and rumors will be thrown out, but only the select few in the draft room know what the brain trust is thinking. As former Pacers beat writer and now media relations guru David Benner once wrote, "Donnie Walsh is one of the most honest men I have ever met. Except at draft time."
The Pacers front office hasn’t really had an offseason, and that’s a good thing. They went right from the Eastern Conference finals to the draft. Next, they’ll move right into free agency while also keeping tabs on who Frank Vogel hires as a new assistant.
“It’s the best time for us,” Pritchard said with a smile. “We’ve studied all year and now we’ve got to take our test.”
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