Hello again all. Ive been busy this week with high school sectionals, so I havent been able to post, but Ive read the events of the week on this board, and wanted to comment on a variety of topics being brought up as the Pacers have met their latest bump in the road. Rather than post in several threads, Im going to lay out my thoughts and predictions mostly in this summary type thread.
First of all, some thoughts on Rick Carlisle specifically, and coaching in general.
To paraphrase Denny Green, "The Pacers are who we thought they were." Which is to say they are a mediocre basketball team with medicore talent, mediocre effort, and mediocre results. Why all the angst over results that are in line with expectations and our talent level?
We are a team filled with laid back players and a laid back head coach, led by a quietly efficient but laid back front office guru in Walsh, and a stoic Larry Bird. We can't be surprised when our team takes on that personality on the floor. What makes it unacceptable to some of you shouldnt be the quiet nature of our players, but the lack of talent. Of all people, fans of Indianapolis sports should know that a talented team led by a quiet dignified coach CAN have success....our Colts proved that. The differences now among the 2 franchises isnt their personalities, its their talent level.
When next summer comes, our front office will have to be able to not only add talent to our roster, but possibly mix in a slightly different group of personalities, possibly one who has talent AND is more of a vocal leader. JO is our leader now, and while I believe his heart is in the right place, and he says the right things, I dont think he has proven to be a player who can inspire and bring along his teammates to walk through fire for him. I also don't find that to be a flaw, I just think its a statement of fact. If our surrounding players were better and more talented, his leadership challenges wouldnt be nearly as noticeable, nor would we care as much.
Jackson was a leader type personality, except he led often in the wrong direction. You arent going to win in the long term that way either, so that player simply has to go to help create a winning atmosphere. What is left now in the interim is a void of sorts that can't be fixed during a season, it needs to be developed and honed thru tough times and an offseason of hard work. The Pacers struggles now as they search for an identity CAN and hopefully WILL make them stronger for the next season....as long as the batle fatigue and strife hasnt worn down the 2 most talented people in their respective jobs the Pacers have....who are JO and Rick.
Blaming RC for the Pacers struggles are like blaming a store manager for the failures at the top of a huge corporation. Rick's "employees" have become less and less talented over his tenure....its no surprise that his winning has gone down too. We need to show some patience until we can get some better players for RC to coach, and that will take time and patience and perserverance.
For us Pacers fans, I think we need to think of Jerry Sloan and Utah as a reasonable example to follow. Sloan has had great seasons, and he has had bad seasons...yet he is universally respected through out the league and his job is secure. Theyve recognized that he is a great coach, among the best, and that its mostly the talent level of their roster, not his coaching, that dictates how much success they have. They have now gotten him better players, so they are excelling and have a legitimate chance to be a strong contender for years now, playing in a very small market that wont attract free agents easily....this should be our model, with hopefully getting slightly further in a quest for a title than they have.
What Im saying is this: Give Sloan, or Van Gundy, or Phil Jackson our current roster and schedule, and the end result wouldnt be much different. We might feel better, but it isnt going to change anything. We dont have the players to go for a title yet....right now we only have one above average player on our roster, and we have several players who are below average and old or too young playing big minutes. We all need to just accept the reality of our situation, and look more long term.
Thats not to say that we should give up on this season either. I fully expect us to preservere, to get tougher, and show some mettle. Its in the tough times where tough people can come shining through, and we can find alot out about our Pacers, and ourselves as fans, by how we act and believe in our players and franchise now. I think our players can respond like men, circle the wagons, bear down and start listening to the coaches better, start believing in one another better, and focus and play with pride. Its gut check time and I think our guys can make it happen. I BELIEVE!
How many reading this, secretly and deep down perhaps, wanted Tony Dungy fired and replaced by a more dynamic and hard nosed coach? How do you feel now? Firing the coach isnt a be all end all solution, it often is just a silly delay tactic and bandaid that covers up problems for a short time. Its the PLAYERS that make a difference, in general its not the coaches. Did firing Bob Weiss and hiring Bo Hill really help Seattle? Did all the firings in Minnesota REALLY help them? Of course not...it just goes to show and prove how dysfunctional, inefficient, and wildly unsuccessful those franchises are run.....we dont want to be those guys....we are better than that.
We need a dynamic backcourt player and scorer, a defender to play beside him on the wing, a grittier and tougher better leading point guard, and some more time and seasoning to put it all together. We could use someone with a championship pedigree, and we could use a tougher more talented front court player to help JO. We have the wherewithall and smarts to make that happen, and in the weaker East it can happen quickly, possibly as soon as a couple of years. But it isnt going to happen yet, we dont have the talent. Firing RC wont necessarily make any difference, biut dont think it doesnt make our franchise look silly long term in the eyes of the media and the sportsnation. Recycling some other guy who has already failed in another job or jobs for PRECISLY the same reasons you want to rid yourselves of RC doesnt make any sense....its just a temporary shuffling of the deck chairs. We have to be smarter than that. Remember what Red Auerbach said about drafting Bird a year ahead...."Do any of you critics realize just how short a year is?"
Now, just for fun, Im going to give you some of my recommended players we can try and acquire next season, who I think will indeed be our next head coach next season (if it isnt RC), and how I think this all fits together someday:
Possible guys to acquire/trade for: Darko Milecic, C; Jameer Nelson, PG; Jarrett Jack, PG; Ray Allen, SG, Robert Horry, PF; Sean Livingston, PG (yes I know he is hurt...thinking long term here), Rajon Rondo, PG; Gerald Wallace, SF;, Raja Bell, SG.
Possible guys we might include in the right deal: Anybody not named JO.
Goals: To upgrade our talent overall, to gain more future cap flexibility, to get a clear "1A" option to pair with JO, to get better defensively in the wing and at the point, to create a 2-3 year window to go for the East.
My predicted next coach: Its someone none of you are mentioning. Hiring Johnny Davis is a joke.....Marc Iavoroni would be a bad fit and has no connections to Bird at all, plus his system he'd likely bring with him doesnt fit our personnel at all. Hiring guys who arent good in the media like Adelman, Jim Obrien, and some of the other guys Ive seen mentioned isnt going to happen.....the Pacers will want someone with a different personality than RC and Bird both have to be the public face of the franchise....this person will be media savvy and telegenic, dynamic and extroverted. He will also have an NBA background, winning pedigree at all levels, and probably have head coaching experience. He will be a guy willing to take on a new challenge, ready to prove he can do this at the highest level. He will also have a relationship with other great NBA coaches, and have a close relationship already with one of our young guys we are banking on for the next 10 years.
I'm going out on a limb and saying the following:
1. RC wont be fired mideason, and most likely will come back next year.
2. IF RC chooses to go upstairs, our new head coach won't be anyone currently on staff, the new guy will get to start with his own assistants.
3. IF we have a new head coach next season, it will be: John Calipari, current coach of University of Memphis, Larry Brown protege, ex of the Nets, UMASS, and a few other stops.
Sorry for the long rambling post today....Ill try and be more coherant next time. In the meantime, all of you readers in Indiana need to go to Hinkle next weekend, or to Huntingburg, or to Seymour, or to Loogootee, or to Washington, for some great Hoosier Hysteria....it might renew your faith and spirit and love of the game.
All of this just my opinion, of course....