Now back to the sports, the NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. While not quite the MLB trade deadline where teams will be dealing left and right, there will likely be a handful of deals in the next month leading up to the deadline. Some teams, like the Bobcats, will make a deal for the future, if they make a deal at all. Trying to improve the team for years to come. Other teams like the Lakers or Celtics who are quickly getting older may sell of pieces for a fresh start (unlikely, but possible). Teams like the Heat and Thunder will not do a thing... they have the talent to make a run... up to that talent to get the job done. And then there are the teams like the Pacers. They have some talent, but don't have the star power of the major market teams. Teams like the Pacers have weigh not only short term success, trying to make a deep playoff run this season, but also not disturb a young, and talented core. Paul George has all the makings of a star and for the last month (with exception to the last 2 games) he has shown he is ready to make that step towards being a perennial all-star. Hibbert is a year removed from an All-star season, he is a talented young big man who is still working some things out, but he defends well every night and is a 7 footer (which don't exactly grow on trees). George Hill has become the heart and soul of the Pacers, as a leader and a scorer, the team didn't look the same with out him for the last few games he missed. As the Pacers look themselves in the mirror in the month to come, they will likely say "no, we are not as talented as the Heat and Thunder and co." they will also likely say "we probably aren't, as is, the best team in the NBA, and we are going to have to play a little above our heads to make a run at a title". But as I sit here and write this I plead the Pacers front office staff with this one statement "Don't do something stupid for a one year run". Being a baseball fan I see this quite often. A franchise that has been down for several years has a good season or two and goes "Oh crap, we gotta make something happen right now" and gives away a key piece or the teams future for one run at a title.... And 9 out of 10 times... that one piece that they sold their future for, their "soul" for, doesn't give them what they need. It ruins team chemistry, it puts too much pressure on players, someone gets hurt... and it all goes to hell in a hand basket. And what does this team have to show for it? Several more years of putting forth a substandard team. With the deadline looming and the Pacers sitting in 4th place overall and finally starting to come together as a team... the knee jerk reaction from fans and analysts is to go and make a deal... get that last pieces. And to some extent, I agree, but don't sell the farm to try to get it. The starting 5 has looked great, and going back to last years playoffs were one of the best in the league (see the playoff series w the Heat where the Pacers starting 5 all a (+) in the +/- category). Where we really need help is on the bench. If we could pick up another scorer to help out PG, West, and Hill... that would be great... but where would we find such a guy... OH WAIT! Danny Granger is due to come back in the somewhat near future. This is where the don't do something stupid factor comes in. A lot of people are speculating that Granger will be part of any deal because of Paul Georges coming of age. Borrowing a line from Lee Corso "Not so fast my friends!" When Danny comes back, not only do we get another scorer to insert in the starting lineup, we move Lance Stephenson (who has grown up a lot this year and proved to be a key part of the line up and somewhat of a team player) back to the bench and all of the sudden the pieces start falling together. Throw in the fact the rookie G Orlando Johnson has looked sharp in his first 2 games as a pro... we may not have to do something big to do something special. No, I am not calling for a Pacers championship this year. No, I am not predicting a finals appearance. But for those of you who watched the Pacers/Heat series last year... you saw the Pacers look special for 2.5 games. You saw the Pacers take the Heat to the edge of the cliff... we just couldn't push them off. If this team comes together, as is, I think they have the heart to take the next step and push each and every team the play to the edge (they've been in close games all year, and have the best defense in the league)... and that is what good franchises thrive on, being there at the end. Teams that are there at the end, and then all it takes is a little magic to finish it off (see the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants of the last 2 years, and the Colts of this year).
Have a great Tuesday,
-T.O. signing out.