Going for Gordon?

Lottery?!? You’re talking about lottery?!?

Uh no. Lots of folks in Indiana have suggested that Butler forward Gordon Hayward may be drafted by the Pacers this summer. Since the Pacers are not in the playoffs I have to repeat myself. Just a moment.

Lottery?!? You’re talking about lottery?!?

I am not a particular fan of Larry Bird’s work as an exec but taking Hayward would be a shocking development even for him.

People wonder about Hayward’s appeal to the Pacers because of some helpful non-basketball factors. He’s White, he’s local, he’s a folk hero kid, he’s from a team system, he’s super smart and he’s entirely clean cut Hoosier to the core.

While all those things are true, I don’t think Bird will make that kind of reach. (I think Bird may be willing to trade out of the lottery and add a second late first rounder or early second round pick so he can delay taking Dallas’ second rounder until next year when the Mavs pick will likely come earlier. If that happens and Bird’s drafting between 18 and 25, he’d probably be excited to grab Hayward then.) The biggest issue is simply that this is the deepest draft in a couple decades if not ever. I know that’s a giant statement but because of the underclassmen declaring early to avoid Collective Bargaining limbo next year there are lots of guys who would normally stay in school (uh, like Gordon Hayward) are headed to the draft.

Beyond the competition, Hayward is not Bird’s ideal kind of player. He’s quite young and Bird loves seniors; Hayward doesn’t have an obvious NBA position and Bird likes guys who fit clearly defined roles; Hayward mirrors Mike Dunleavy in ways that may make Bird wary; finally, Bird’s track record indicates that he does not feel the kind of pressure many execs do the placate his fan base when draft day arrives.

Please remember that a couple years ago, Broad Ripple high and IUPUI senior George Hill was available for the Pacers but Bird didn’t jump. Hill fit the Pacers’ needs at the time much better than Hayward does now and filled the non-basketball factors (except his race) just as well as Hayward does. Hill is excelling with the Spurs and perhaps Bird believes Hayward will have the same impact but I don’t think Bird will be willing to spend his lottery pick to find out.


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