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Friday, May 24, 2024

Pacers rebuild is finally starting, and that’s a good thing

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Often in sports there is a reluctance to let go of players and start fresh with new faces. Sometimes it’s ill-advised contracts or maybe a series of second-tier free agency acquisitions that go horribly wrong, but eventually the front office brass comes to the realization that this particular group isn’t working, and the quest to change things begins.

Case and point for your Indiana Pacers, who finally got busy in what they’re calling a reboot, which in reality is the beginning of the end for much of their roster.

Pacers guard Buddy Hield. (Photo/Walt Thomas)

Last week the Pacers started the process of exterminating the stench at Gainbridge Fieldhouse by shipping arguably their best player in Domontas Sabonis, along with some dead weight in the form of Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a second round draft pick to the Sacramento Kings, in exchange for point guard Tyrese Haliburton, shooting guard Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson, who’s better known as one of the Kardashian family rather than even a serviceable player.

Prior to that, they dealt Caris LeVert to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract and a 2022 first round pick and two second round picks, one each in the 2022 and 2027 drafts. Not a bad start to the rebuild, but it’s not even remotely close to the total housecleaning that this franchise needs to become competitive.

In a nutshell, while Burton and Hield have some upside, they are both players that one of the worst teams in the NBA gave up on. Sure, they got a blue collar grinder in Sabonis who produces double figures in points and rebounds nightly in return, but is that all he was worth on the open market?

Clearly other teams had interest in him, but apparently the Pacers felt that getting rid of Lamb and Holiday to make the deal work was worth it.

LeVert had his moments here and I thought he was part of the future, but it is hard to argue with the number of draft picks they garnered for him.

All that’s left now is to find what they can for Myles Turner, who was once a promising player. His lack of both physical and mental toughness makes him expendable, and there should be a Senate investigation if he’s not traded in the offseason.

Turner isn’t happy here, and that makes it all the more easy to jettison him out the door.

Same can be said for Malcom Brogdon, who can’t stay healthy or interested. The acquisition of Burton, coupled with the emergence of Chris Duarte, makes him beyond expendable, and he too is likely gone.

Yes, the Pacers roster will look dramatically different by the time training camp opens this fall, and this is clearly the last stand for Kevin Pritchard.

As this franchise’s last link to Larry Bird, his seat was warm when the season began, and that will intensify if he can’t pull some more strings in the coming months. What he can get in return for Turner and Brogdon is key, and if he strikes out on that then he needs a new ZIP code quickly. The Pacers continue to make attending their games fun for families and diehard fans despite the poor product on the floor. Sure, injuries have played a part in their demise, but change was imminent, and more of it is on the horizon.

Just call it what it is and publicly admit it’s a rebuild as opposed to a retooling. I’m not the only one smart enough to see this for what it is, so don’t insult what’s left of your fan base with wordplay. Repeat after me, and say it loudly.

It’s the beginning of a long overdue rebuild, and now that we’re awake now, we intend to keep this thing in motion.

Danny Bridges, who thinks the Pacers can find respectability quicker than you might think, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or bridgeshd@aol.com.

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