View Full Version : Championship Moves

06-24-2011, 10:36 AM
If the Dallas/Miami series showed us anything, it's that Championships are not won by 1 or 2 moves (Miami), but rather by a series of intelligent transactions (Dallas). For us fans, it is sometimes hard to be patient enough to see the movement through.

If you look back on what the Pacers have done in recent years, there is a trend and seems to be a specific direction that is being followed. Patience is the key. I feel like the first move towards our eventual destination was the draft day trade of Jermaine O'Neal and the draft rights to Nathan Jawai for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the draft rights to Roy Hibbert. For as great as J.O. once was for the team, at the time of the trade he was equally as bad for the team. From his contract, to his deteriorating body, to his public desire to be traded, it was all bad. The trade was clearly a means to shed the franchise of one of the most significant ties to the era of Pacers basketball that still hangs over our franchise to a slight degree. The hidden blessing of that trade however was the addition of Roy Hibbert. Rasho served his purpose for a season, and Ford was a failed experiment (which may or may not be attributed to the coach at that time) who's time is now up as well.

Fast forward a season and a lot of losses and you see the Pacers in the back of the lottery line again. This pick was a "no-brainer" right? Go for a point guard that can take the wheel for the team for the next 5-10 years. Well we know that didn't happen. Larry Legend went with his gut and took the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history and the Sporting News College basketball player of the DECADE, Tyler Hansbrough. Sure there was a lot of complaints and nay-sayers early on, but as we now see Tyler is a very solid piece to the core of a very good young team. The grit and grind type of player that every championship caliber team needs to have one or two of. His game might not be the most attractive thing around but I think it's hard to argue at this point that it doesn't fill a need on the roster.

As we start getting closer to the present, we look at last years Draft and see what some feel may turn out to be the smartest draft pick the team has made since Donnie Walsh picked a skinny kid from UCLA. Not many people had much of a clue about Paul George leading up to the draft last year, so it came as somewhat of a shock to see Larry pick a kid without a great pedigree who only played 2 seasons for a not-so-major Fresno State. It took a little while to see exactly what Larry saw in Paul George, but now that we have seen the tip of the iceberg the future looks "shades at night" bright for the California kid. Already establishing himself as a freakish athlete and a potentially top-rate defender, we see that we've got a guy who can be a major contributor on both ends of the court going forward.

We look at the coaching scenario and it's one that has been a sore subject since the departure of the man who is the newest Championship head coach in the NBA, Rick Carlisle. After suffering through the torturous methods of the coach that shall not be named, Larry gave us the man who restored the faith. Frank Vogel stepped in as the dreaded Interim head coach and did a pretty admirable job leading a band of young players into the playoffs for the first time in 5 years. Preaching a blood and guts mentality and his brand of "smashmouth" basketball, Vogel got the most out of a team that most pundits said would be the laughing stock of the playoffs. Pushing the #1 seed Chicago Bulls to 5 hard fought games and earning the respect of many around the NBA world, COACH Vogel got the team back on the right track. We've started towards the ultimate goal, by getting back into the playoffs.

The off-season had been a fairly boring time for us up until the past week. As the draft got closer, rumblings started getting louder about possible trade scenarios. Coach Vogel sat down with Brian Shaw about joining his coaching staff. Shaw, the owner of three rings as a player and an additional two as an assistant coach with the Lakers, isn't exactly lacking in the area of Championship experience. So on the day of the draft, news leaks that Shaw has accepted the position as, eventual head coach, Frank Vogel's lead assistant. The draft comes with the Pacers selecting 15th and picking SF Kawhi Leonard and then promptly trading him for hometown kid and developing young guard George Hill. Some love the trade. Some hate the trade. George Hill might not single handedly win us a Championship but I definitely feel like Hill will be a vital piece in getting this team deep into the playoffs in the future, and eventually contributing in a Championship series.

There is still some work to be done with this Pacers team. Free agency and trades over the course of the next 2 seasons will prove to be the deciding factors in this teams future over the next 10 years or so. Luckily, Championships are won with a series of moves that eventually lead to the culmination of great things. Piece by piece, a team like Dallas built their franchise with a series of transactions that may have not been the most covered stories around the Association, but they all played an integral part in the ultimate goal. The moves that Larry Bird has made haven't been the most glamorous or the most talked about decisions around the league, but as we saw this past season the best decisions aren't always the ones that get hour long specials on ESPN.