On a team already carrying a 15-man roster, exchanging one asset (Danny Granger) for two players (Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen) means that someone else has to go in order to make room for the new faces. Unfortunately for Orlando Johnson, he has been chosen as that sacrificial lamb. Since the beginning of 2014, OJ had appeared in just 11 games for the Pacers averaging only 2.3 minutes per game in the month of February and accumulating a plus-minus of -114.3, per basketball reference.
As a result of these numbers, he requested to be assigned to the Mad Ants in order to get some play time and refine his skills. While in Fort Wayne, he averaged approximately 13 points on 33% shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Even so, behind Lance Stephenson, Rasual Butler, and, now, Evan Turner on the depth chart, it seems fairly unlikely that OJ (with an upcoming $915,000 team option) would have been able to carve himself a permanent spot in the Pacers' rotation this season or next.
After hearing the news, one of Orlando's now former teammates, CJ Watson wished both him and Danny Granger well via social media:
Him and @dgranger33 both good teammates good luck to them both in the future— C.J. Watson (@Quietstorm_32) February 20, 2014
Tough seeing my boy @Pace_O11 leaving the team today goin to miss him and his pregame dances.— C.J. Watson (@Quietstorm_32) February 20, 2014
As for Orlando, he was extremely gracious to both the Pacers and the city of Indianapolis in his parting words:
I want to thank the city of Indy and the Pacers family for being first class. I appreciate everything! #FailureisNotanOption— Orlando Johnson (@Pace_O11) February 20, 2014
In the coming days and hours, there is sure to be more reactions from the team about the recent player acquisitions, as well as, departures. While it is undoubtedly difficult for the players, well-known for their camaraderie, to say good-bye to their former teammates, it is obviously a move that Larry Bird and the rest of the Pacers' front office felt was necessary to not only bolster their bench, but to contend for a title. From Orlando Johnson's perspective, this is a move that may prove to be beneficial in the long-run if he gets picked up by a team where he has a better chance of contributing. Undoubtedly, the 36th pick in the 2012 draft will be determined to make things work on a new team. Like he tweeted, "failure is not an option."