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A few realities about building like the Pacers

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  • A few realities about building like the Pacers

    A lot of people throw around the comparison of building like the Indiana Pacers. To those people, please stop!

    The Pacers unraveled in 2006-07 as the later to be known as championship winning coach Rick Carlisle flamed out due to a rash of off court incidents, Jermaine O'Neal's knees saying, "Goodnight all!" and a mid season trade that saw 3 of the top 7 minutes played in the rotation traded. Pacers went 35-47 and no playoffs for just the 2nd time in 19 years.

    In 2007-08 they continued to wait for O'Neal to return to form but with no luck. New coach, similar result: 36-46. Blow up begun as O'Neal was traded to Toronto. A small draft night trade that sees the #13 pick (Bayless) turned in to a young proven back up PG (Jarrett) and 2 prospects (Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush). Granger in a break out season becomes face of franchise.

    In 2008-09 smart trades and picks to start the rebuild: dead weight out and smaller contracts in in the JO trade along with a draft pick who became Roy Hibbert. Own draft pick yields Tyler Hansbrough at #13. Granger emerges after breakout '08 season with ASG selection. Nesterovic and Daniels ($14M) come off the books.

    **Intermission: What do we see thus far? 1 year in to the rebuild we see numerous young future NBA rotational talent (Jarrett, McRoberts, Rush, Hansbrough and a future defensive anchor at C). Huge overpaid NBA contracts shed for smaller contracts (mostly overpaid) and assets. Nesterovic and Daniels expire ($14M) and Granger's contract extension kicks in ($9.9M)**

    In 2009-10, year 2 of the rebuild continues. Pacers slog to a 32-50 record and the #10 pick (George) and a second round pick (Stephenson). $11M expiring contract of Troy Murphy is traded to the summer of 2010 version of Eric Bledsoe (Darren Collison) and the expensive fading fast James Posey. Financial flexibility cashes in the most coveted backup PG in the league (it didn't pan out but they had the flexibility to do it thanks to large expiring contract). No rush to overspend on free agents and no rush to keep players signed to lucrative offer sheets (Jarrett Jack).

    **2nd Intermission: After 3 years out of the playoffs the Pacers have established a core of Hibbert (23), George (20), Stephenson (20), Hansbrough (23), and Rush (25) with an established NBA all-star in Granger with > $10M per year rolling off the books as contracts expire - this is the very essence of being opportunistic and patient**

    In 2010-11 they get off to a rough start 17-27 and coach is fired. Frank Vogel takes over and finishes year 20-18. Pacers, incredibly, make playoffs with 37 wins as the 8th seed in the 4th season since the blow up (trading JO) was initiated. $30M in expiring contracts comes off the books. Address PG depth with trade of #15 pick to SA for George Hill.

    In lockout delayed 2011-12 season, Pacers use enormous cap space to sign veteran free agent David West prior to start of season. Finish 3rd in the East with .636 win percentage (equivalent of 52 wins). Miles Plumbee is drafted #26. This season also has $13M in expiring contracts which become Roy Hibbert's max extension. They also had about $8M in cap space at the start of the season and were able to acquire the expiring contract of Leandro Barbosa for a 2nd round pick thanks to the financial flexibility.


    REBUILD OVER


    So why aren't the Raptors the Pacers?

    Well yes they have a promising C but that is where the comparison ends.

    The Pacers identified a talent to build around in Granger who was an all-star scoring 26ppg in his 4th NBA season. The Raptors? No, Gay and DD do not compare.

    The Pacers had a cast of overpaid NBA veterans that kept them competitive for so many years. While those players were overpaid, they were actually productive NBA players (Dunleavey, Murphy, Ford *damn injuries*). The Raptors have had the likes of Bargnani

    The Pacers had a bench of future NBA rotational players in Hansbrough, Stephenson, McRoberts, Rush.

    Most importantly the Pacers had the core of their current team and 1 current/2 future all-stars (Granger, Hibbert, George) on the roster 2 years after the rebuild began. The Raptors do not have an all-star on the roster and have not had one since Bosh left in 2010.

    The Pacers identified the pieces that were not a part of the future and let them expire or . The Raptors held on (Bargnani).

    The Pacers were patient and didn't waste cap space, exceptions, or expiring contracts on instant gratification until they had a core in place. Toronto traded for O'Neal, then Marion, then traded that cap space for Hedon't, then traded for Barbosa (who ironically ended up on Indiana!); gave fat extensions to non-all star talent (Amir, DD); traded expirings for overpaid chucker (Gay); traded lottery pick to get a starting PG to hopefully make playoffs vs traded pick to get depth and a compliment to the playoff core already in place; used every bit of cap space possible to chase flavours of the summer in Hedon't, Nash, and Fields; used MLE to sign the likes of Jack, Kleiza, Kapono, etc.

    The Pacers were a playoff team 5 years after their previous appearance and 3 years after deciding to start over. The Raptors have no been a playoff team in 5 years and what looks like a possible 6th year.


    Sh!t this is depressing but here goes:

    If you want to build like Indy this is 2006-07.

    If you really want to build like the Indiana Pacers you're going to have to recognize how it started for them: they traded nearly half their rotation when it became obvious they were going nowhere and then their 'star' overpaid face of the franchise player when it was obvious no wins were coming with him as the cornerstone.

    For Toronto to get the ball rolling like Indy it is time to send Gay (star) away and possibly DD, Lowry, Hansbrough, and Amir (veteran guys who have been with the team for multiple years, not on rookie contracts, playing significant minutes in the rotation).

    We've got 3 years of building coming up and lets hope we find franchise talent at #10, an all-star at #17, and a possible break out star in the 2nd round. Lets hope everyone is alright with Toronto still being a lottery team during all-star festivities. Lets hope everyone is alright with waiting until 2017 to make that free agent splash. Lets hope everyone is alright with patience and slow steady moves with internal growth and development. Lets hope everyone realizes the 5 year playoff drought currently being experienced has another 3 years to go on the Indy model.


    In a loaded 2014 draft, the chances of the Raptors getting their Paul George is going to be significantly higher at the top. The reality is the Pacers hit lottery gold despite where they selected after a dismal 32 win season. For all those talking about luck needed to get your franchise player, you need more of it at the bottom of the lottery than the top.

    Indiana essentially turned their franchise around with a #17 (Granger), #17 (Hibbert), and #10 (George) pick while playing some mediocre basketball. They were very lucky considering their draft positions, they were very patient financially, and they had terrific scouting/drafting.

    If this is the road you want to travel to build a winner, get comfortable, it is likely to be a long ride. Like everything nothing is guaranteed and the Raptors haven't even started the process of 'building'.

  • #2
    Good post!

    It's all luck is what I feel though man! And tanking is what makes your odds better. But I think the Pacers are the exception that showed drafting really smart (with luck) you can win being in the NBA's no man's land. IT'S POSSIBLE.

    It helps that they were competitive in the playoffs that one year and were able to sell West to play with them.
    Eh follow my TWITTER!

    Comment


    • #3
      Nice job, Matt. But actually, the timeline to competitiveness is not that much different than the so-called OKC tanking model. A few things I take from this are:

      1) Use 'sucker' GMs like Bryan Colangelo, liberally during your rebuild for cap space, picks, etc... Worked great for the Heat too.
      2) The selection of the coach (Vogel) is massively underrated. Same with OKC - turned around when Brooks took over.
      3) Player development, character & culture is extremely important in the Pacer model, to have players overachieve individually and as a group. This is mainly an extension of (2) and reinforced by the GM and ownership.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great post.

        Dismissing an ideal rebuild as "it's all luck" is a load of BS. Absolutely there's luck in the lottery (it's a lottery!) but this post does a fantastic job of illustrating the impact of talented management. Good management improves your success rate in a rebuild, whereas bad management dooms you to perpetual mediocrity within the exact same system.

        Luck means you have to be patient with timelines and prepared for, as pointed out, a multi-year rebuild that could easily take a couple seasons longer than expected. But what other options do the Raptors have?

        Colangelo's entire tenure was defined by attempts to "rebuild on the fly." A lot of his moves were seen positively at a time - credit was often given to him for being able to move players/contracts that, in hindsight, he never should have acquired in the first place. But in trying to rebuild a weak roster on the fly, what do you have to offer anybody via trade? Not much. And there's never much cap space or much of a winning culture to attract and sign FA's. We've been through "let's just move forward with what we've got and hope for positive outcomes" - that was Bryan Colangelo. The Raps don't need to win the 2014 lottery and land a saviour - they just need to operate with the principles and discretion Indy (and other well-managed teams like Houston) have shown.

        I'm less attached to more players on this Raptors roster with each passing game, including the sloppy wins. I'm totally ready for a tear-down and rebuild.
        "We're playing in a building." -- Kawhi Leonard

        Comment


        • #5
          S.R. wrote: View Post
          Great post.

          I'm less attached to more players on this Raptors roster with each passing game, including the sloppy wins. I'm totally ready for a tear-down and rebuild.
          I agree. I think it's time for a tear-down and rebuild. I think that this roster will only ever be mediocre. Even JV is looking pretty mediocre. In addition to remaking the roster, the Raptors have to get serious about finding a coach that will be able to instill a winning system and attitude. It's depressing to think about, but this current roster and coaching staff don't have what it takes.

          Comment


          • #6
            golden wrote: View Post
            Nice job, Matt. But actually, the timeline to competitiveness is not that much different than the so-called OKC tanking model. A few things I take from this are:

            1) Use 'sucker' GMs like Bryan Colangelo, liberally during your rebuild for cap space, picks, etc... Worked great for the Heat too.
            2) The selection of the coach (Vogel) is massively underrated. Same with OKC - turned around when Brooks took over.
            3) Player development, character & culture is extremely important in the Pacer model, to have players overachieve individually and as a group. This is mainly an extension of (2) and reinforced by the GM and ownership.

            Not at all really.

            Whatever timeline one uses for the Raptors, they are already waaaaay behind if you are going playoff appearance to playoff appearance.

            Comment


            • #7
              Great post Matt.

              There are different ways to get to where the contending teams are. What strikes me about the steps that the Pacers took is that the process followed are conceivable for the Toronto Raptors. Without using the words "small market", let's just say we don't have the "pizzazz" that teams like Brooklyn, Miami, Boston, LA (both) had that could lure the big name free agents.

              The other part that strikes me about the Pacers is they didn't have to do it by winning the lottery like OKC did. A lot of their picks were the types of picks a 7-11 team gets. This means we have a chance without needed to win 15 games every year.
              your pal,
              ebrian

              Comment


              • #8
                ebrian wrote: View Post
                ...This means we have a chance without needed to win 15 games every year.
                Slightly better chance with a 15 win year though.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Unfortunately, luck is not on the side of this franchise. If the Raps didn't trade for Gay, our chances of being bottom 5 greatly increases, thereby increasing our luck of drafting Wiggins.

                  Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
                  “The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” - Martin Luther King

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ebrian wrote: View Post
                    Great post Matt.

                    There are different ways to get to where the contending teams are. What strikes me about the steps that the Pacers took is that the process followed are conceivable for the Toronto Raptors. Without using the words "small market", let's just say we don't have the "pizzazz" that teams like Brooklyn, Miami, Boston, LA (both) had that could lure the big name free agents.

                    The other part that strikes me about the Pacers is they didn't have to do it by winning the lottery like OKC did. A lot of their picks were the types of picks a 7-11 team gets. This means we have a chance without needed to win 15 games every year.
                    Pizzazz and lack thereof is a great way to describe Toronto's market.

                    I think the difference between Toronto and Indiana here is the types of players on the roster during the years of mediocrity. Dunleavey, Nesterovic, Ford, Murphy were all solid NBA players - overpaid but solid and intelligent. The Raptors don't really have the basketball IQ those teams did and assuming the players actually do have that bball IQ they are being handcuffed by the coaches sets.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Matt52 wrote: View Post
                      Not at all really.

                      Whatever timeline one uses for the Raptors, they are already waaaaay behind if you are going playoff appearance to playoff appearance.
                      Sure, we can thank 7 years of BC 'waiting on Bargs' for that. But the thing is, everybody keeps talking about OKC tanking model, Pacers player development model, Heat big 3 FA model, Celtics big 3 model, Spurs model, etc... In my opinion, there is no such thing as a successful 'model'. There are general franchise building philosophies, such as: (1) maintaining financial flexibility, (2) developing players to exceed their initial potential, (3) culture of hard work and overachieving, (4) acquiring young talent, (5) not overpaying for the level of your talent, (6) acquiring character veterans, (7) selecting a great coach who has the balls to punish players who don't play the right way, (8) having a superior talent evaluation and scouting staff, etc..., etc...

                      The rest of what happens is mostly luck, especially being able to capitalize on unique opportunities that arise at that specific point in time. But following those franchise building philosophies puts yourself in the position to capitalize on those opportunities and is a sign of good management. That is more within your control. So, the idea that there is one type of 'model' that is more successful than the others or more appropriate for the Raptors situation, which must involve tanking for picks, doesn't really make sense, and has been proven to be false many times over. The draft is a lottery, lest we forget, and even if you hit the jackpot, you can still end up on the treadmill or even worse. The core franchise building philosophies are what counts - and if they take time to instill, then so be it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Gregg Popovich: "It's not supposed to be easy!"

                        It's a depressing truth though, after all that's happened in the past it will take a looong time to finally get this team back on track. On top of that, letting go of Amir would shatter my heart into a million pieces.
                        OG is our king

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          golden wrote: View Post
                          Sure, we can thank 7 years of BC 'waiting on Bargs' for that. But the thing is, everybody keeps talking about OKC tanking model, Pacers player development model, Heat big 3 FA model, Celtics big 3 model, Spurs model, etc... In my opinion, there is no such thing as a successful 'model'. There are general franchise building philosophies, such as: (1) maintaining financial flexibility, (2) developing players to exceed their initial potential, (3) culture of hard work and overachieving, (4) acquiring young talent, (5) not overpaying for the level of your talent, (6) acquiring character veterans, (7) selecting a great coach who has the balls to punish players who don't play the right way, (8) having a superior talent evaluation and scouting staff, etc..., etc...

                          The rest of what happens is mostly luck, especially being able to capitalize on unique opportunities that arise at that specific point in time. But following those franchise building philosophies puts yourself in the position to capitalize on those opportunities and is a sign of good management. That is more within your control. So, the idea that there is one type of 'model' that is more successful than the others or more appropriate for the Raptors situation, which must involve tanking for picks, doesn't really make sense, and has been proven to be false many times over. The draft is a lottery, lest we forget, and even if you hit the jackpot, you can still end up on the treadmill or even worse. The core franchise building philosophies are what counts - and if they take time to instill, then so be it.
                          I don't think 'model' is being used as a specific blue print. Its more of a loose idea. ie. there are 2 'models' of building a contender. Big 2/3 or 4 or 5 allstars. This has been constant over the last 30+ years (probably even further back). A model of building through the draft, or through FA etc. I don't think anyone is looking at OKC and saying, "yes lets do that exactly"

                          That tanking for picks hasn't worked in some places or situations doesn't mean it doesn't make sense. If I buy stock and it goes down, should I never buy stock again? Ofcourse not. That people have failed, even when making the best decision (whatever that decision may be) doesn't mean it wasn't the best decision or that it won't work next time.

                          Lets not forget, trying to build a 'philosophy' for a team has failed many times to. In fact I'd argue teams are constantly trying to do that in one form or another. If we maintain the argument above, that would mean we shouldn't do it either, as it has failed. Are we best just making random decision then?

                          The optimal path to build a team changes over time and space. But what one should be doing is to find the best opportunity given a teams situation both now and in the near future. Where do we want to be, where are we now, and were can we expect to be? Tanking and the draft happens to be that when we factor in what this team has, what it needs, its market, whats potentially available in the near term, what history has told us about the NBA in general.

                          The team could try and build 'like Indiana', and be successful. But history has shown us thats unlikely to happen. It is rarely successful, and much less common than building through the draft.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, when I think `build like the Pacers` I think more about team culture, and less about specific moves.
                            Just hearing Larry Bird talk about the team, you can see that it starts with him.
                            This is what I would like the Raptors to emulate.

                            Now, that's a very unique situation because IT'S LARRY BIRD.
                            I understand that.
                            But this is what I like about the Pacers, and make no mistake that it is the root of their strength.

                            They are like a family.
                            Bird talks about instilling the attitude in players that the game isn't just about them.
                            It's much bigger than them.
                            It's all the people involved in the organization, the fans, etc.
                            He makes the players feel (or realize, more aptly) that they are really competing for something.

                            They are a team.
                            A real time, and one of - as I see it - only two in the NBA at present.
                            If we want people to get over the Toronto thing, I think establishing this type of mentality would be a very wise way to do it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Shrub wrote: View Post
                              Well, when I think `build like the Pacers` I think more about team culture, and less about specific moves.
                              Just hearing Larry Bird talk about the team, you can see that it starts with him.
                              This is what I would like the Raptors to emulate.

                              Now, that's a very unique situation because IT'S LARRY BIRD.
                              I understand that.
                              But this is what I like about the Pacers, and make no mistake that it is the root of their strength.

                              They are like a family.
                              Bird talks about instilling the attitude in players that the game isn't just about them.
                              It's much bigger than them.
                              It's all the people involved in the organization, the fans, etc.
                              He makes the players feel (or realize, more aptly) that they are really competing for something.

                              They are a team.
                              A real time, and one of - as I see it - only two in the NBA at present.
                              If we want people to get over the Toronto thing, I think establishing this type of mentality would be a very wise way to do it.
                              well said...

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