Pritchard Focused on Patience and Discipline During Unprecedented Times
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard spoke to the media via Zoom video chat on Tuesday afternoon, a sign of the current state of things in the NBA and the world at large.
Pritchard fielded questions about all aspects of the Pacers' current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as keeping in touch with players, the potential of a return to play, and the complications of preparing for the NBA Draft during uncertain times.
"We're doing everything we can do to keep together," said Pritchard from his kitchen. "We're going to have an extreme amount of patience and we're going to have to be disciplined."
When asked about the potential for some of the various scenarios of returning to play that have been floated in the media, Pritchard stated that he has full faith in NBA commissioner Adam Silver's judgement on when and how the NBA returns to play and that as of right now, the league is still in the process of charting the best course of action.
"I don't think anything is going to be talked about or announced until early May, so that would be probably the earliest that we would hear anything," he said.
From talking to the players, Pritchard said that he feels the team has a real hunger to take the floor and believes that the group was just starting to hit its stride before the hiatus began.
"They want to prove that this team is a good team in the playoffs," he said. "They want to show that they're a tough out."
"We think we can make some noise in the playoffs," he said.
On the injury front, Pritchard mentioned that Malcolm Brogdon – who had been sidelined with a torn left rectus femoris – is feeling 100 percent ready for a return.
"When I communicate with Malcolm, he's just ready to go," Pritchard said. "He was so looking forward to getting some games with Victor before the playoffs. Malcolm is so hungry."
Pritchard also made clear that he believes teams would need more than a few weeks of time to ramp up activity for their players to get a point where they are at peak form and not risking injury.
"I don't think it's going to be one week and 'let's get back and play some games,' I think they are going to give us a good amount of time, but I don't think it's going to be a week. I would say two or three weeks minimum, and then play some games. But we're going to have to be cautious."
During the stoppage, Pritchard has taken aggressive steps to keep the players connected to one another, checking on the team frequently during video chats and having the training staff send workout regimens to keep the team in shape.
"We get online for an hour or hour-and-a-half once a week and we just check in with the players."
Pritchard has been impressed with how proactive members of the team and company have been in finding ways to contribute positively to the community during this crisis.
"What I've been most proud of is how some of our players are using this platform to help. Victor and Tamika, they did their public service announcements. And I know Malcolm is coming out with a program right now."
Beyond the hurdles of planning for the postseason, Pritchard also addressed how the Pacers are prepping for the draft despite so many unknowns. Instead of getting hung up on what they can't do, Pritchard has his team locking in one what they can do.
"We can watch film, we can ask people about players, and we can make our evaluations." he explained. "I think our analytics department is probably as busy as they've ever been, because they're working on new projects. We're not sitting idly, I can tell you that."
With the front office becoming acclimated to their new reality of remote work and social distancing, Pritchard believes their discipline has the franchise on solid ground. And now it's just time for patience, with the timeline of how and when a return will occur still obfuscated by forces much larger than basketball and beyond anyone's control.
But when play is eventually resumed, Pritchard knows the Pacers will be as ready as anyone to return to the hardwood.
"I think we have an amazing basketball culture (in Indiana) that is being missed right now and I can't wait for us to get back to that."