Let me lead today’s exercise session. Everybody take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Relax.
The unrest that is flitting around some media and fan circles because the Pacers haven’t yet announced a major trade or free agent signing is, to put it politely, absurd. And to put it impolitely, it's stupid.
Passing judgment on them or any other team at this premature point makes as much sense as commenting on the Colts’ effort in training camp. In other words, it hasn’t even started yet, so what’s the problem?
True, some NBA teams made draft-related trades or have announced impending moves. But for the most part, the summer follows a natural progression.
In June, teams focus on the draft. Trades are made that involve draft picks, but not many. In early July, teams focus on their summer league teams, although a few free agent acquisitions are announced. And now it’s nearly time for the real trade and free agency action to start.
Keep in mind that the Pacers have often made their most meaningful moves late in the summer. They traded Dale Davis for Jermaine O’Neal on Aug. 31, 2000. Last summer they traded for Al Harrington on Aug. 22, after some were ripping them for not getting the deal done. So if a week or two passes and the Pacers haven’t traded O’Neal, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Doesn’t mean it will, either, but there’s going to be a process.
I hate to be the bear of boring tidings in this knee-jerk world, but it probably will take awhile for things to play out with the Pacers, just as it did last summer. So hold those roster analyses.
As for the rest of the league, there are two forces of nature at work. There are more capable free agents than there are teams with mid-level or better contracts to offer. And there are more media outlets feeling the need to "feed the beast" than there is legitimate news to report.
That means there will be a lot of bogus rumors and a lot of waiting around for things to shake out.
We’ve already seen hot rumors of Garnett being traded, followed by rumors of Garnett staying put. We’ve seen rumors of the Knicks pursuing Ron Artest, followed by the Knicks “cooling” on Artest.
The truth is, it’s mostly been a lot of media-driven hype. Stay tuned for the real thing. Just be patient.
Isn’t it interesting that fights in other sports are treated as inconsequential, inevitable or amusing, while those in the NBA are indicators of a serious problem within the league or greater social issues?
I ask this in the wake of the scrum in the pits following Sunday’s Indy Car race at Watkins Glen. Listening to radio commentary on Monday, I heard it described as “kind of exciting” and “kind of fun” and “the best thing that could have happened” for the sport.
I don’t disagree. But somehow I don’t think an NBA fight would ever be regarded so casually. And I can't help but wonder, are any of the racing people now "thugs"?
I can't predict how much success Jim O'Brien will have with the Pacers next season, but I know this: He'll be just their second low-maintenance coach since his father-in-law, Jack Ramsay, coached the team in the late 1980s.
Dick Versace, Bob Hill and Larry Brown were high-maintenance. Larry Bird was low-maintenance. Isiah Thomas wasn't as high-maintenance as some assume, but the reaction he inspired from others often made for a high-maintenance environment. It's playing out the same way in New York. He doesn't irritate his players, but he seems to get to a lot of fans and media members. Rick Carlisle was high-maintenance, in a quiet sort of way.
Some of the high-maintenance coaches performed well for stretches, but they tend to wear out the players. They also make life more difficult for the front office, either by refusing to deal with the distractions or by causing them.
You all know how it is in your work environments. Some people create stress, others absorb it. Bird absorbed it, but could only do it for a limited time before it got to him. O'Brien will do the same, but will have more staying power because he's a coaching lifer by nature and better equipped to handle the hassles of the job. He's also direct, honest, free of ego hangups and willing to deal with the locker room issues.
That should mean fewer distractions and a greater focus on basketball, which would come as a relief to everyone.