I love this team. I've always loved this team ever since I first began to take an interest in being a fan of a team. Admittedly that was later than most. I was in my early teens before I started rooting for any team. I blame that on my dad. Despite being a better than average athlete and scholarship college football player, my dad was never a big sports fan while I was growing up. Anyway, I've been a Pacers fan for a couple decades now.
I love this team. I've always loved this team. But, I feel like this is the first time I love all the players. I love their heart. I love their effort. I really, REALLY love the way they cheer each other on when their on the bench. I love the way they encourage each other. Despite some ugly play and some bad passes/shots/defensive lapses that show you how young some of this team is; how young the coach is; how little time this group has had to gel in this system....despite all of that, I love this team. 23-12 feels pretty darn good and this team is really fun to watch and really fun to root for.
I'm hearing a lot of chatter about what moves we need to make as the deadline approaches. I agree there are some holes. Assuming our luck continues health-wise and we can weather some tough stretches of opponents/hectic scheduling, I wouldn't be surprised if we secure the 3rd or 4th seed in the playoffs and still lose in 6 in the first round. I would be disappointed, but not surprised. I could also see us getting to the 2nd round and pushing Miami to 6 games (long shot there, but it could happen). I could even see us pushing Chicago to 7...or in a not so foggy, far-fetched dream advancing to the ECF to face Miami (just can't see us beating them). But, a lot of things would have to go right for us to make it out of the 2nd round.
Still, I don't see any moves we can make at the deadline that will really benefit us enough this season to warrant the likely hit we take in the long run as we continue to solidify this team. I don't want to see any of our players go. I wouldn't be upset to see any leave (except maybe PG24) under the right circumstances, but I don't see any team valuing our players as much as we do; not enough to send us back something in a trade worth pulling the trigger on. I'm all for using our cap space to add some depth to our front court by helping some mediocre team get under the luxury tax threshold. Maybe trading our 2nd round pick or some cash for a slightly overpaid player on their final year? I'm cool with that. Otherwise, I've scoured the payrolls of other teams, and I just don't see a realistic deal I like.
This is a significant change from the past for me. I've always been one to favor trading our underwhelming proven talent (if there's any market for them at all) to some fringe contender for their mid-1st round pick and a chance for us to lose a few more games and improve our own draft position (or package that late 1st round pick we acquired with our own to move up), or really anything that makes us younger, more flexible and improves our own draft position. But, now that things are going our way and we have a really lovable core of players that deserve to stay together through the end of the season? Most of them should be back next year too? I say no to any trade that isn't an absolute no brainer; and I'm very excited to say that.
My vote right now is to stand pat through March 15, at least when it comes to trading any of our players or our 2012 1st round pick (unless is crazy protected, like top 25 or top 22 or something). When we start making offers to Free Agents, we should have somewhere between $7.5-10mil. (depending on when we re-up Hibbert/Hill and whether D.Jones opts out) in cap space this summer to spend to improve our team. We'll have a draft pick in the mid-20s and every player on our roster will be valuable and tradable (though I'd probably prefer to keep most if not all). I think we can do much more to improve our roster in the offseason than we can now, assuming we don't want to damage our current team's strengths to make a playoff run. We still need to improve this year and Larry should pick up the phone anytime it rings, but he should be sure to keep the future in mind. Be sure to consider that this team isn't ready to challenge for a title yet. But, also consider that several players have room to grow and there will be bargains to be had next week, and even more so this summer. On top of all that, with a good showing in the playoffs, Indiana might not look like such a dismal destination for quality free agents looking to play meaningful, winning basketball, not improve their Q-rating.
I love this team. I'm open to some trade and change. I just don't want to see any more knee jerk, desperation moves like in years past (moves I'm starting to think were all Donnie trying to salvage the Brawl era roster). I love this team. Keep it rolling Larry.
p.s.- I'm going to be back in town the week after next. I bought tickets for my dad, son and daughter to the game vs. Portland. Section 9, row 16, (lower-level corner, actually the worst seats I've had at a Pacer game, but still pretty good). I'm very excited. I even bought them from the box office so I actually contributed to the organization rather than having my dad pick up a free pair form one of a dozen season ticket holders he knows or buying from a scalper on Conseco Ct. (haven't renamed that yet huh?) like in the other two games I've been to. Two for Tuesday...they were pretty affordable. 4 (together) Lower level seats for under $200 total? Pretty sweet. The house had better be rocking or you're going to hear a middle-aged man embarrass his kids and their grandfather screaming nonsense in front of 13,677 quiet fans!
p.p.s.- How in the world according to Garp are we 2nd to last in attendance? 23-12? That won't get some folks to come out and see a game? WTF?!?!?!?!?!
p.p.p.s- Where is area 55? What section? If we have any vantage point what-so-ever, I want to show my kids what real fans look like.