The Pacers front office leaders, Kevin Pritchard (Pres) and Chad Buchanan (GM), made the media rounds last week ahead to the team starting training camp on Monday. Both seemed energized by the big task in front of them, rebuilding the Pacers with quality young talent. They also hit a theme we will likely continue to hear during this process, selling the long-term vision of the team as opposed to short-term success...better known as wins.
“I don’t think focusing on wins and losses is appropriate with a young team,” Buchanan explained during an appearance on Kevin & Query from the Pacers Foundation golf outing last week.
The team will have a different scorecard to measure success this season and Buchanan wants to see that improvement month-by-month as the young talent gets the opportunity to show what they can do. B
Both Pritchard and Buchanan mentioned Memphis as a blueprint for what they have in mind. Cleveland was also referenced by Buchanan as two teams that leaned on good young talent and had a sudden jump two years in. Cleveland my be even a better example since they also made a bold move to acquire Donovan Mitchell to fortify their young core for what looks like a group ready for several years of success.
With Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin the Pacers have the young talent and should be able to add another high-level youngster next summer. But the young players they have this year, including Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith will be helped by having Myles Turner and Buddy Hield still on the roster. Those vets along with TJ McConnell can create a great development environment for all of the youngins.
They won’t just be thrown to the wolves in an effort to tank the season. Their level of growth is just as important as any lottery pick they grab next summer. As Buchanan said, the team is always listening to offers on Turner and Hield (or any player for that matter), so how the season plays out may be determined by how well the team starts out.
With Turner in a contract year, if he plays well and enjoys playing alongside Haliburton, then both sides may go all in on keeping Turner apart of that future vision. If not, and Turner is more likely to leave via free agency, the Pacers will need to mix in their young bigs for more minutes to make sure they are tested, let alone allowed some room to develop.
But those are details that will play out once the season starts. For now, the team leaders are taking advantage of the opportunity to rebuild the roster even if they hate the ‘R’ word. Regardless, it is better than continuing to try to piece together teams with talent that may be unreliable. Buchanan mention his appreciation for durability and making that trait part of the draft process. Obviously, the recent risky talent boosts of TJ Warren and Malcolm Brogdon have taught the team tough lessons in chasing the short term fix.
So settle in and enjoy the journey.
“It’s going to take some time,” Pritchard said. “We’re going to enjoy the heck out of it. And we’re going to build this team back up to make it a really special team with guys that have true character that want to have deep roots in this community. I think that is something we’ve talked about. How do you do that? At the end of the day, you draft well, develop relationships. [It] is your best recipe for high-level talent, high-level characters and the ability to keep players for a long time. I don’t think that’s a secret to this.”
Yep, the rebuild will require a different approach and mindset, not only from the Pacers front office but from fans following the team, as well.
Here’s the full interview with Buchanan hitting on a host of Pacers topics.