Okay. I give up.
I won’t try anymore.
The relentless optimism and best case scenarios; the hypothetical matchups and ‘well, what if’s. It's all over now, Blue and Gold. No more pretending.
It’s time to tank, Pacers.
Maybe there’s still some universe in which the Pacers can win a playoff series but I don’t think it’s this one. Not anymore.
After the debacle of Mo Williams (MO FREAKIN’ WILLIAMS) scoring 50 points on the Pacers, there’s no reason to encourage the Pacers to continue making an effort to win every game this season.
It’s really a shame too. The East this season is likely the worst conference in modern NBA history. The most important statistic is this: Only 5 teams in the East have a positive point differential; only 5 teams in the West have a negative point differential. The Pacers of the last two years would be the favorites to win the whole conference this year.
Except the Pacers aren’t anything like they have been for the last two seasons. Mo Williams wouldn’t have sniffed a 50 point game against those Pacers. The reality is that this group is bad enough that I’m convinced they should begin planning now for next year.
Since the Pacers still have the core of a contending team, they don’t even have to pursue some radical renewal plan. They can back to the top of the conference next year with good health and a couple straightforward moves. Next year, they have a first round pick they should use to get another lottery talent on the roster, preferably an offensive minded wing. Right now Paul George is the only Pacer who can drive to score. They also have three second round draft choices and some easily offloaded contracts that can be parlayed into a useful player. Heck, who knows, Dallas might be willing to do Devin Harris for CJ Miles straight up.
The problem is that the Pacers seem scared to do a short term rebuild. They appear stuck in the old fashioned mentality that every win is beneficial. That’s just not the case in today’s NBA. If you’re interested in winning championships in a place like Indiana you simply must acquire maximum talent through the draft. (Signing premier free agents simply won’t happen.) It’s much harder to get that kind of talent drafting at 15 than it is at 5. (And yes, the Pacers are bad enough that they might reasonably have the fifth worst record in the league this year. They don’t need to rely on lottery luck.) This much is clear.
It is, at best, unclear if the Pacers have the organizational discipline to play for the long term instead of the short term. I don’t think they do judging by Larry Bird’s public statements. The talk of Paul George playing 1 on 1 is frightening. The very worse thing that could happen to the Pacers is another injury to Young Trece. The second worse is his return lifting them to the 7th or 8th seed this Spring.
The Pacers don’t need to be a .500 team this year. They need to be bold enough to be bad for a year. And Pacer fans need to let them know it’s ok.
It’s time to tank, Pacers.
I probably need to thank Mo Williams for proving it to me.