Labor Day weekend has past and suddenly it is weeks, not months, until the Pacers tip off training camp and official preseason work at the Fieldhouse.
Several players are already in town working out, while Chris Duarte and Goga Bitadze have been playing for Puerto Rico and Georgia, respectively in FIBA qualifying games. Bitadze made news over the weekend with a classic Goga trifecta many Pacers fans have experienced in the past.
First, last Thursday, Goga flashed his skill set with a solid game in Georgia’s 79-76 OT loss to Belgium, finishing with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Of course, he tweaked his ankle late in the game and was unable to go in Georgia’s game against Turkey over the weekend, but he remained dedicated to his team.
Turkish (and 76ers) forward, Furkan Korkmaz was ejected after a dust up and head butt on the court. Reports of what happened next are not clear (lost in translation?), but Korkmaz and a trainer stated the were confronted by three Georgian players in the hallway while going to the locker room. They claimed they were attacked, others report shoving, which could be considered an attack, but Goga was reportedly involved. It appears the Georgian side views things differently and FIBA is investigating to sort through the biased reporting.
Regardless, it isn’t hard to imagine Goga jumped in the fray to at least be heard and stand up for his squad which gives us the Goga trifecta (not always in this order):
- Show potential
- Suffer an injury
- Lose cool, get into an altercation
It is easy to appreciate Goga’s reluctance to take ish from anyone, but the trend is not good. Last season, we saw him head butt Gary Payton after the Golden State guard dunk on Goga’s head. The prior year, we saw his emotions boil over with assistant coach Greg Foster.
Again, appreciate the passion, and as James Boyd chronicled last season, Goga grew up in an environment which required him to be ready to defend himself. But the time is now, for Goga to figure out how to manage those emotions and remain available to provide more moments when he can flash his talent instead of flashing his temper.
The Pacers roster is far from set for the season and Goga’s role could vary from continued occasional bench minutes, to regular rotation player, if he does indeed remain on the roster. As a head-scratching first round pick in the 2019 draft, Goga needs to deliver something positive the Pacers can rely on going forward.
Donovan Mitchell trade helps Cavs and Pacers
In some quality offseason news, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz for a few players and picks that won’t alter the Cavs’ high-ceiling future. That’s a good thing for the Pacers since they need Cleveland to make the playoffs in order to have an additional first-round pick next summer.
Last season, the strong start by the Cavs made the playoffs seem like a lock. However, a few key injuries altered that path to the post season (although also pushed the Cavs to deal for Caris LeVert). So assuming the roster stays relatively healthy and adds major dynamic depth to the backcourt with Mitchell joining Darius Garland, things are looking good for the Cavs to be making some post-season noise next spring.
Check out the links:
Lakers would get Myles Turner, Hield; Pacers? Russell Westbrook, hope - Gregg Doyel
"And Turner needs to go somewhere else. Maybe after he averages 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds there, wherever that is, he’ll realize what he is. Probably not. He thinks he’s a star. He thinks the Pacers are holding him back. Run free, big fella."
Kravitz: Pacers stay patient when considering Myles Turner, Buddy Hield deals - The Athletic
"Does anybody really think Turner wants to sign an extension to stay in Indy beyond next season? Not me. Why would he, right? I’m figuring he wants to end up back in Texas — Dallas or San Antonio come to mind. And of course, his feelings have been bruised; not only is he a perpetual subject of trade talks, but now he’s had to sit by quietly and watch his team extend an offer sheet to another center."