The Indiana Pacers Could Use a Superstar, But…
…couldn’t we all? I always felt that Steve Kerr seemed a tad overmatched when he was Team President of the Phoenix Suns, and I certainly felt it again when he tried to discuss what the Indiana Pacers needed to do next as the time ticked out on their season Tuesday night during their Game 5 loss to the Chicago Bulls. He kept harping on the idea that they needed a superstar to move to the next level. I wish Kerr would think before he spoke. The Pacers play in Indianapolis, a fine city I’m sure, but if you were a young millionaire with options would you live there or would you be more inclined to take your talents to a more glamorous locale? Historically, the Indiana Pacers have fielded numerous playoff teams and even a few championship contenders that were built through shrewd drafting (taking Reggie Miller over local hero Steve Alford) and smart trades (Dale Davis for a very young Jermaine O’Neal). They know the limitations of their market; I wish a former executive commentating on the NBA had similar awareness.
So what do the Pacers do going forward? Reviewing the work of Larry Bird seems like a good first step; legendary players often do not make for especially talented team executives, and Bird’s tenure has been a mixed bag. The Pacers have cap room, but only if they use it wisely will they move to the next level. I really don’t think a superstar is coming to town.
The Knicks Need to Rejigger Expectations.
Their four game sweep by the Boston Celtics notwithstanding, the New York Knicks are moving in the right direction and have the potential to move in the right direction quickly. The team desperately needs to extend Donnie Walsh’s contract as Team President. They will have a small amount of cap space to build a championship caliber nucleus around Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and it will take a savvy, veteran exec like Walsh to do it. Meanwhile they need to set manageable goals for the upcoming seasons. Fans who think a title is imminent because brand name stars now play at Madison Square Garden need a stronger dose of reality than the first round sweep provided. The Knicks are closer to a title than they have been in eight years, but they are still a long way away.
The 76ers and Magic Need to Stand Pat.
But for different reasons. The Sixers are a rising team, and could improve even more under year two of the Collins regime. The Magic are done. They won’t contend again until the Turkoglu and Arenas contracts age off the cap. By then, Dwight Howard will be playing for another team. They might as well enjoy the end of the Howard era in Orlando by winning as many games as possible. It may be their last winning season for several years.