Recapping the Pacers’ “Make or Break” Run

February 26, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

Will Coach O'Brien be blamed for another year where the Pacers miss the playoffs?

Will Coach O'Brien be blamed for another year where the Pacers miss the playoffs?

A while back, after the Indiana Pacers defeated the Houston Rockets on January 23, their record was an unimpressive 16-27, good for second last in the Eastern Conference.

However, I noted that the team was about to embark on a “make or break” stretch of the season, where 13 out of their next 17 games were against sub-0.500 teams (at least at the time) and 10 of those games were at home.  If the Pacers were going to have any chance of making the playoffs, this was the time for them to make a run for the top 8.

The Aftermath

So how have they done?  Well, it was, as the Pacers have been all season, mediocre.  For the softest patch of the season schedule, the Pacers went 9-8, boosting their record to 25-35, 12th in the East and 3 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot.

I said back then that, given the Pacers’ record at the time, 10-7 would be considered a moderate success.  Not unexpectedly, they fell just short. 

However, if you look at the actual games during the stretch, you may be surprised by where the wins and losses came from.  They managed to get 3 wins against Miami, Orlando and Cleveland, the teams they were supposed to lose to, and lost completely winnable games against New York (twice), Minnesota, Washington, Milwaukee (without Redd and Bogut) and Charlotte.  They also went 8-2 at home and 1-6 on the road.

During this stretch, All-Star Weekend flew by, the trade deadline passed and went without any deals (ie Tinsley), Danny Granger hurt his foot (out 3 weeks), and Mike Dunleavy declared his season over with the same injury that’s sidelined him for most of the season.

What now?

With just 22 games left, it’s not looking good for the Pacers.  According to Hollinger’s Playoff Odds, Indiana still has a 14.9% chance of making the playoffs, down from 23.4% before the start of the dream 17-game stretch.  But to do so, they need to go something like 14-8, which would be miraculous if they managed to even come close.  This would be the case even if they had Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy and no injuries to anyone else.

So, to summarise the “make of break” stretch of the season: They didn’t make much progress in the standings.  Their two top scorers Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy are out with injuries, the latter indefinitely.  They are about to enter a tough stretch where the next 10 games include teams such as Boston, Denver, Portland (x2), Utah, Atlanta and Dallas.  To top things off, they still have Jamaal Tinsley.  Another forgettable year for the Indiana Pacers.  Time to look forward to next season.  The only problem now is that they are winning some games, which won’t get them in the playoffs but will, once again, put them in a position to miss out on the top picks in next season’s draft.  Oh, and they still have to get rid of Jamaal Tinsley.

Trade deadline came and went, Tinsley still a Pacer

February 20, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

 

Tinsley is still a Pacer

Tinsley is still a Pacer

Disturbing…so very disturbing – Jamaal Tinsley is still an Indiana Pacer

Yesterday’s trade deadline saw a host of activities between 13 different NBA teams.  Players were going here and there and everywhere (and for some, eg Tyson Chandler, back again), but to be honest, there was nothing really worth noting.  The biggest had to be former Pacer Jermaine O’Neal’s swap with Shawn Marion (Toronto Raptors/Miami Heat), but no one’s expecting that trade to make much of a splash.  You can read about ESPN’s analysis of all trades here.

The team quietly missing from the list of teams that made trades was the Indiana Pacers.  You would think if any team needed a trade it would be them.  Jamaal Tinsley hasn’t played been near Conseco Fieldhouse all season and he’s being paid.  His name’s been removed from the lockers.  And yet for the Pacers, the trade deadline came and went like a fart in the wind.  Nothing.

WTF?

I, like most Pacers fans, expected Jamaal Tinsley to be gone a long time ago.  If not at the start of the season, then at least before the trade deadline.  I started getting nervous when the trade deadline began to approach and there were virtually no rumours surrounding the Pacers.  A couple of lacklustre trade suggestions with the Bobcats for Raymond Felton, and another even worse one involving the Miami Heat.  A tiny murmur when Tyson Chandler got shipped back to New Orleans.  That was it.  I looked everywhere for something, anything that would assure me that the Pacers would get rid of Tinsley (whom the NBA had filed a grievance on his behalf).  The more I looked, the more concerned I became.  Not just the lack of trade possibilities, but how crap those suggested trades were.  But I think all it demonstrated was that no one was interested in Tinsley or that the Pacers were asking too much for him (or unwilling to give up other pieces in order to get rid of him – eg Jeff Foster and Brandon Rush).

According to the official Pacers.com article about the trade deadline, looks were deceiving – the Pacers were trying really, really hard.  Larry Bird said: “We were everywhere.  We were very, very active with a number of teams. We just didn’t get anything done. It’s frustrating.”

Seriously, not good enough anymore.  They’ve had more than half a season to find a new home for Jamaal Tinsley and they’ve come up short.  With the team losing money, injuries mounting, the playoffs almost certainly out of reach, big bad contracts and a lack of talent, where do the Pacers go from here?

By the way, you can tell the Pacers were clearly frustrated when in the same article they took a cheap shot at Jermaine O’Neal:

Upon arrival in Miami, O’Neal called his new team “a perfect fit” and suggested the Heat has “a really good chance to do something special.”   Upon his arrival in Toronto a few months ago, O’Neal said much the same thing, suggesting the Raptors had “a shot at doing some great things.”   The Raptors, who won 41 games last season, have since fired Coach Sam Mitchell and stand 21-35, 14th in the Eastern Conference.

Real classy stuff by the Pacers to kick their former All-Star when he’s down.  Seems they are truly feeling the pain.

Where to now?

Like I said all along, the Pacers have no one else to blame but themselves.  The problem really started when last season ended.  The Pacers, who wanted to get rid of Tinsley back then, should have done all they could to trade him during the offseason, when he still had some value.  Instead, they tarnished his reputation by dwelling on his past indiscretions, his injury history, lack of commitment and leadership – essentially painting him as a team cancer – and saying he’ll never be an Indiana Pacer ever again.  What did the Pacers expect after this?  Teams to jump at Tinsley with their best players and expiring contracts?  It’s frustrating to see just how badly management has handled this situation.

Now that a grievance has been filed and Tinsley will be with the Pacers until at least the end of this season, things could get ugly if they went to an arbitrator.  Imagine if they ordered the Pacers to buy out Tinsley’s contract, something they had been unwilling to do from the beginning (as the contract would continue to count against them in the salary cap).  Then the Pacers would definitely be kicking themselves because they would have essentially lost Tinsley for nothing (except, well, a lot of money) and they could have done this at the start, when this issue hadn’t become such an annoying baggage on the team.

As a fan, things could not be worse.  The team still sucks, they’re hemorrhaging cash, they still have bad contracts, and they still have Jamaal Tinsley.  Even if they did have cap room, no superstar is going to consider coming to a small market place like Indiana.  The only thing they can do is trade, but no one wants to deal with them.  Looks like it will be at least another few years before the Pacers become competitive again.  Did the Detroit Brawl really generate that much bad karma for the Pacers?  Even after more than 4 years, they are still paying for it.

Oh, and Granger’s out for up to 3 weeks

Amidst all the Tinsley crap, I forgot to mention that the Pacers’ leading scorer, Danny Granger, is out for 10 days up to 3 weeks after a partial tendon tear in his right foot – sustained during their previous game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

This could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.  I mean, they’re already missing Dunleavy (probably for season) and Foster – and even when they had those guys they still couldn’t win any games.  Why not take the full three weeks for Granger to heal his troublesome right knee as well, and give the Pacers a chance at a top 5 pick next season – one that can help out immediately or be used as trade bait?  With virtually no chance of making the playoffs, why not start looking forward to next year?

An Update: On Writing and Other Things in Life

February 19, 2009 in Basketball, Book Reviews, Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Novel, On Writing, Uncategorized

It’s scary how time flies.  My posts have been somewhat sporadic as of late, and are mostly concerned with basketball and movies – but there are good reasons for this.  I’ve still been writing, but I feel like I’m not writing the way I know I can and at the pace I should – is this what writer’s block feels like?

Anyway, here’s a quick update of sorts on what has been happening.

Study

I got a bit of a shock the other day when someone reminded me that I was already halfway through my 9-month masters course, which means the exams are practically just around the corner.  I’ve been studying hard, but the astronomical amount of work means I’m perpetually behind.  Keeping up has been near impossible, let alone catching up.  But I’m confident things will work themselves out.  We have another long break coming up in less than a month and most of the final term is for revision.  So fingers crossed.

It’s just that I have to devote even more time to study, which obviously means the closer it gets to exam time, the less time for other things, such as writing and posting!

Movies/Oscars

Some may recall one of the goals I set ages ago was to watch all the big nominated films for the Golden Globes (back when they were on) and the Oscars (before they happen on the 22nd) and post short reviews for all of them.  Well, I’m pretty close to accomplishing that goal.  Part III of my film reviews should be out in the next few days, as soon as I finish watching Rachel Getting Married.

I also made some Oscar predictions a while back, but given the passage of time and the fact that I’ve seen a lot of the nominated now, I also want to do another post on who should win and who will.  That’ll have to be done before Oscar night.

Reading

After an influx of emails attaching articles about it from a friend, I decided to buy John Grisham’s new novel “The Associate”.  It’s about a young associate in a big law firm and all the perks and horrors that come with it – something I can relate to.  I can’t believe I haven’t done any book reviews yet since I started this blog, but it’s probably because I haven’t finished any books!  Well, I’m more than halfway through this book and I will be posting a review of it as soon as I finish.

Posts

As I said, my posts have been a bit all over the place, and the frequency has dropped from my early fanatical pace.  Part of it is because I’m getting more steady traffic and I don’t feel as though I need to pad up the content anymore.  But the main reason is because of all the other things I’ve mentioned in this post!

Just looking at my past posts, most of them have been about basketball!  Well, you can hardly blame me, considering it was All-Star Weekend.  Now that’s over, I’m going to shift the focus back onto my writings and the upcoming Oscars and readings.  Okay, maybe except any big news regarding the Pacers (especially with the trade deadline being today).

Indiana Pacers

Well, I’m sure All-Star Weekend was a blast for first timer Danny Granger.  But it’s back to business now for the Pacers.  There was all this talk and hype again about them finally making a run for the playoffs, winning six or even games straight (when they haven’t been able to win more than 2 in a row all season).  Well, they just lost to the Charlotte Bobcats after beating the Philadelphia 76ers, so the same old story continues.  Except that apart from Mike Dunleavy Jr’s continued absence, Danny Granger sprained his foot last game – which means even that tiny glimmer of playoff hope could be gone too (have to wait for the MRI).

The main concern is still getting rid of Jamaal Tinsley.  I believe today is the trade deadline.  No one seems to be knocking on the Pacers’ door asking about him.  Again, no one to blame but themselves.  At this rate, actually playing him might be a better idea – but after banning him all season, it’s too late to do that now.

Writing

Last, but not least, the writing.  It’s been a tough week for my fantasy novel.  I’m still writing (almost) everyday, but because of the aforementioned things, I feel as though I’m not getting anywhere.  I’m getting about 400-1,500 words a day these days, but I plan on pushing that up if possible.  Bear in mind this has been busy week – Valentines Day on Saturday, and we went down to London on Sunday (going again tomorrow) – it’s hard to get anything done on these types of days.  Plus it also means I need to spend the remaining free time focusing on studies, leading to even less time for writing.  The constant reading and note-taking are bogging my mind down so much that when I finally sit down to write, I feel nothing good comes out.

Not doing an updated wordcount yet until I feel better about how I’m progressing….grrrr…..

In any case, I’m really starting to develop a deep respect for writers, especially those who manage to pump out novels even when working in full-time jobs.  It involves so much dedication and commitment that it blows my mind just thinking about it.  Here I am, merely studying, and I’m struggling to get the first draft done.  There are so many temptations, so many other activities calling out to you – the excuses to tear yourself away writing are endless.  I can’t imagine doing anything apart from rest when I get home from work after a long day.  And yet, these incredible writers persevere in pursuit of their dreams.  I need to be more like them.  Even those writers that are huge successes continue to dedicate themselves to their craft and write more amazing novels, despite not having to worry financially anymore.

Okay.  Stop being so pessimistic.  Get back to work.

Latest on Jamaal Tinsley

February 11, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

Will the Pacers get rid of Tinsley by 19 February?

Will the Pacers get rid of Tinsley by 19 February?

With the February 19 trade deadline coming up, the Indiana Pacers are desperately trying to get rid of dormant point guard Jamaal Tinsley.  Here’s what’s been in the headlines the last couple of days.

NBA Players Union files grievance on Tinsley’s behalf

After threatening to do it a week or two ago, the NBA Players Union have now officially filed a grievance on Jamaal Tinsley’s behalf.  According to Tinsley’s agent, Jamaal just wants to play.  However, Tinsley has not played since last season and the Pacers have essentially cut all ties with him, not allowing him to practice or travel with the team – but they are refusing to release him or buy out his contract (still over $14 million in his last 2 years).   Pacers management have made it abundantly clear that Jamaal Tinsley will never be an Indiana Pacer again.

Unless the Pacers manage to stuff this up even more by not finding a team for Tinsley by the trade deadline, I don’t see this grievance having any impact at all.  Chances are, Tinsley will be gone by 19 February, but the big question is where and what the Pacers will get in return.

Since they’ve already killed off any trade value Tinsley had left in him, I think the Pacers need to stop being so stubborn and just take whatever deal (within reason, of course) that is out there.

Potential deals

Just from publicly available sources, there appear to be two teams desperate enough to be willing to take a gamble on Tinsley – the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats.

Miami Heat

The Indianapolis Star reports a potential trade with the Heat in which the Pacers would probably have to take another point guard in Marcus Banks, or preferably, center Mark Blount.  Banks is averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 assists in 16 games this season, but only playing 10.4 minutes per game.  Blount, on the other hand, is averaging 4 points and 1.9 rebounds in just 10.9 minutes over 17 games.  Both are not hot commodities, though they have been (in the past) relatively decent players.  The important thing is that both are averaging more than Tinsley (a big zero in all categories).

I see no point in taking Banks if the Pacers already have Ford, Jack and Diener.  Blount, on the other hand, would be a semi-decent addition because the Pacers need tough bodies and at least he can play a little D compared to the other Pacer big men.  But it would only be worth it if they don’t lose another big man or young player in the trade.

Charlotte Bobcats

Another rumoured trade reported by both the Indianapolis Star and ESPN is with the Bobcats.  Sources say the deal would involve trading Jamaal Tinsley, Jeff Foster (6.8ppg, 6.7rpg), and Brandon Rush (5.9ppg, 2.5rpg) for Raymond Felton (13.4ppg, 6.7apg), Nazr Mohammed (2.5ppg, 2.0rpg) and Sean May (4.0ppg, 3.1rpg). 

However, reports say that the Pacers have no intention of parting with fan favourite Foster, who just received a 2-year contract extension in October, and Rush, a young guard the Pacers raved about and traded to get.

If the Pacers could say trade Stephen Graham or Marquis Daniels instead of Rush, then I think they should jump at the deal.  Despite how badly Rush has played in his first season, at least he has some potential.  He has range and has the ability to be a good defender.  There is a possibility that he’ll end up as just another player the Pacers raved about before the draft but give up on a season or two down the track (remember Shawne Williams, James White, David Harrison, James Jones, Primo Brezec?), but I think the Pacers will end up regretting it if they traded Rush now.

Foster is still as reliable as always on the boards and is a decent defender, but he can’t hang with the more physical, powerful PFs and Cs in the league.  It’s just a fact.  The Pacers are simply too soft in the middle and Mohammed and May can provide some much needed toughness (when healthy).  Yes, Felton is another PG, but he’s been playing great this season and could form a legitimate rotation with Ford and Jack at the PG and SG spots.  In any case he would be a big upgrade on Diener.

I’m kind of surprised how unappealing these deals look, but the Pacers have no one but themselves to blame and it’s best if they just bite the bullet and get this Tinsley saga over with.

Will the Pacers ever get rid of Jamaal Tinsley?

February 4, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

How can the Pacers ever get rid of Tinsley?

How can the Pacers ever get rid of Tinsley?

The Jamaal Tinsley situation in Indiana had been seemingly dorment for the last few months.  The Pacers continue to say they are doing everything they can to move him, but with the 19 February trade deadline fast approaching, things aren’t looking too bright.

According to ESPN.com, the NBA is preparing to file a grievance on behalf of Tinsley against the Indiana Pacers.  This may eventually lead to an arbitrator ruling requiring the Pacers to buy him out of his contract or waive him.

This is the worst possible situation for both Tinsley (who apparently just wants to play) and the Pacers, who have really no one else to blame but themselves for destroying any trade value that Tinsley may have once had.  For years Indiana has been publicly criticising Tinsley for his inconsistency, lack of focus and leadership on the court and poor off-court conduct.  Plus everyone knows he is injury prone, having played more than 42 games just once in the last 5 seasons.

Look, it’s fair enough that they want to move Tinsley for whatever reason.  But why make him virtually untradeable by first publicly bashing him and then banning him from the team and making it so unequivocally clear that they want to get rid of him even before the start of the season?  If other teams know that Tinsley is useless to the Pacers, what incentive to they have to give something valuable in return?

I can only think back to the 2001 draft when Indiana acquired Tinsley by trading for Atlanta’s 27th pick.  Only if they got Tony Parker (who was picked 28th) instead.

 
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