Kevin Pritchard, Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Nate McMillan

Mark's Mailbag: Offseason Edition

by Mark Montieth Writer

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Email him at and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Editor's Note: Some Mailbag questions have been edited for clarity and length.

Q. Do you like McDermott in the role off the bench? In New York he was very inconsistent. The Knicks letting him go speaks volumes.


A. I think he's a good addition to play off the bench. In fact, I'm not convinced he can't be a starter. He seems a little more mobile and agile than Bogdanovic, moves better without the ball, and is a better passer. That kind of thing works itself out, though, and Bogdanovic will enter training camp as the starter.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on McDermott's tendency to be traded. He's obviously not indispensable, but in most instances he was part of a deal to acquire a significant player and was traded for as much as he was traded away. Salary dumps also were involved in some cases. The Knicks let him go as part of a deal to acquire Emmanuel Mudiay. McDermott was going to become a free agent, and they probably weren't confident they could retain him anyway.

The Pacers need more 3-point shooting — more in quantity than in quality. Their team percentage last season was OK, and should get better with the offseason changes. McDermott addresses that and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle obviously established a template in how to get the most out of McDermott.

Q. Why haven't we signed Myles Turner to an extension?


A. I can't say for sure, but the Pacers and Turner have until Oct. 31 to agree to an extension of his rookie contract.

It would be understandable if one or both sides wants to wait, however. It's difficult to determine Turner's future value to the franchise at this point. Some people regard last season as a disappointment for him, but he's worked hard this summer to get stronger and improve his post-up skills. He also has competition for playing time from Domantas Sabonis, and it appears as though they will play together more often next season to determine if that combination works.

Given how much remains to be learned, it might make sense to wait. That could benefit him as well, if he has a great season.

If an extension is not signed by Oct. 31 he becomes a restricted free agent, so the Pacers still can match any offer he receives.

Q. Do you think there is a chance Sabonis starts at 4?


A. Not in the upcoming season, unless Thaddeus Young is injured. Sabonis will back up Turner and will play with Turner some when Young rests. He and Turner likely will play together more often than last season, as Kevin Pritchard has stated a desire to see if that can work.

Their time together did not go all that well last season analytically, as I wrote in May. Both players will have to improve facets of their games to be able to complement one another. Someone, probably Turner, is going to have to be able to defend on the perimeter, for example. The hope would be to create a bigger problem for the opponent than is created for the Pacers when they play together. It should be interesting to see if it can develop into a workable combination.

Q. How can Holiday get crucial minutes with CoJo and DC already so cohesive with their respective units?


A. It will be difficult unless there's an injury. But that's OK, there's nothing that says the 23rd pick in the draft is supposed to get a lot of minutes as a rookie.

I compare Holiday to Travis Best. Both were drafted 23rd (Best in 1995). Best was a third-string point guard who averaged 9.7 minutes and 3.7 points his first season, as you can see here, while playing behind Mark Jackson and Haywoode Workman. Best moved into a backup role his second season, and Holiday could have an opportunity to do the same thing with Collison and Joseph both in the final year of their contracts.

Q. Will we ever see a Pacers vs. Mad Ants scrimmage during Fan Jam?


A. I haven't heard anyone mention that possibility, but it seems unlikely to me.

The Fan Jam scrimmage is always brief, so I don't know if it makes sense to bring down all the Mad Ants to play. In fact, the Mad Ants roster won't be settled by then, as the G League teams wait for final NBA cuts to be made to fill out their roster (Editor's Note: Last year, FanJam was Oct. 15 and G League training camps didn't even open until Oct. 23).

Q. I've seen Holiday's D being both praised and criticized. I have not been impressed with what I've seen in Summer League from him so far. What's management's take on his skills on that side of the court — high potential or future liability?

Thanks for your insights Mark!


A. Kevin Pritchard spoke to his impression of Holiday on draft night: "He's a bulldog defender. He's as tough as they get. When we talk about players, the first thing we talk about is, is he tough. And he's that."

I can't tell you whether Pritchard's opinion has changed since watching him in Summer League play, but it was clear then Holiday will have trouble with some of the quicker point guards in the NBA. He's not quick by NBA standards and he's a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, but he has long arms and wants to play it. It's always been emphasized in his family, starting with his parents, so that is a good place to start.

Obviously defending in college and the NBA are much different challenges, so we'll have to wait and see how well Holiday can make up for his lack of footspeed while defending. Mark Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley managed to get by pretty well without being great defenders, so it can be done.

His older brother Jrue also spoke a little on Holiday's defense in this interview.

Q. Do you think the Pacers could sign Alize Johnson to a two-way contract still?


A. Yes, that can happen. I believe Johnson will be on the roster one way or another next season, given what he showed in Summer League play in Las Vegas.

He averaged 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, and handles the ball exceptionally well for a "big" player. If he works hard enough on his shot to become a consistent mid-range shooter, he could have real value.

Q. Can we afford a trade for (Kyle) Korver?


A. I don't see a trade for Korver in the Pacers' future. He's 37 years old and has two seasons left on his contract. He shot .436 from the 3-point line last season, but Doug McDermott shot .426 — and .494 while playing for Dallas, which used him much the same way the Cavs use Korver.

So, it appears the Pacers have the player who can do the things you want Korver to do for them, and that player happens to be much younger. And a little more versatile, too.

Q. So Alize Johnson, Ben Moore, Alex Poythress probably battling for final spots and the last 2-way deal?

—Pacers blog

A. Yes, it appears that way. As mentioned earlier, I expect Johnson to have either a two-way contract or NBA contract next season. He has the advantage of being a recent draft pick and appears to be more "raw" than the others, with greater upside.

Poythress and Moore played well enough in Vegas to warrant consideration, though. Poythress averaged 12.2 points on 50 percent shooting and Moore averaged 6.6 points while hitting 11-of-16 shots.

CJ Wilcox played well, but has the disadvantage of being 27 years old. The same could be said for Henry Sims, who is 28. It's tough getting old, isn't it?

Q. Are the stories that we released Poythress accurate? Did we get far enough under the cap to sign O'Quinn without using an exemption?


A. As you've probably figured by now, Poythress was released to get far enough under the cap to sign Kyle O'Quinn. That didn't affect his status with the team, which remains uncertain. He played in all five Summer League games in Vegas.

Q. I'm a big fan from Cincinnati. My question is a little bit hypothetical; why not start Tyreke? The guy can put up 20 points a game and has played a significant amount of time at the point guard spot bringing the ball up. He and Vic could both split that role which would allow Collison to come off the bench. I'm sure he will do great as a reserve, but I just see him being really successful starting with Vic, Bojan, Thad, and Myles and opening up the offense a lot.


A. Your point makes sense, and Evans certainly will play with Oladipo and other starters at times. However, I expect he will be used as Lance Stephenson was last season, backing up two or three positions.

If you started Evans, you would have three backup point guards in Collison, Joseph and Holiday, and no logical backup two-guard behind Oladipo. Evans fits the overall balance of the roster, and signed on to play that role without objection. He'll get something approaching starter's minutes, at least as many as the 22.6 Stephenson played last season.

Q. I see Leaf and Holiday just outside the regular season 10-man rotation and out of the playoff rotation barring injury or foul trouble. Do you think they are still another season away from regular playing time?


A. I expect them to be on the playoff roster, but they might not be part of the regular game rotation.

That's OK for now. Holiday will be a rookie and Leaf is younger than Holiday, having come out of college after just one season. They still have time, although people understandably will want to see noticeable improvement from Leaf.

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Email him at and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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