I'm no fan of Larry Bird, but once again Bob has way overstated his case here. To suggest that Shawne was a "horrendous choice" isn't fair - I mean he was the 17th pick - half of those picks are out of the NBA within 5 years - very few ever turn into starters. And none of the players taken after Shawne will ever be star players - or anything close to star players.
Oh, I love it how he is saying the pacers should have shown a little more patience with him - really Bob - would you have said that after his next incident?
October 15, 2008
Pacers still digging out of '06 draft
Here is a list of all the players the Indiana Pacers have to show for their fine work in the 2006 NBA draft:
Well, unless you count 106-year-old Eddie Jones, who was acquired in last week's Shawne Williams trade and seems less enthusiastic about coming to Indianapolis than, say, Mike Tyson.
The story here isn't Williams, who was a complete bust on and off the court and a horrendous choice for the Pacers at No. 17.
The story here is team president Larry Bird, who will carry this draft like an albatross until he shows he can turn around this franchise. As much as some of us like what Bird has done this summer, ridding the team of virtually every last remnant of the TrailPacers, that 2006 draft will remain on his record.
He took Williams at No. 17. And he moved up in the second round to take James White with the first pick in the second round, then gave the kid an unnecessary guaranteed contract, only to see him fail to get out of training camp. "Which," Bird acknowledged the other day, "we knew would look bad."
The '06 draft qualifies as the biggest swing-and-a-whiff in recent Pacers history. It's the kind of oh-fer a franchise on the rebound can't afford, the kind of miscue that gets team presidents -- even Hoosier legend-turned-team-president -- fired.
In case you were wondering about players who were chosen after Williams, here you go: Rajon Rondo at No. 21. Marcus Williams at No. 22. Kyle Lowry at No. 24. Jordan Farmar at No. 26. Paul Millsap at No. 47 in the second round. Leon Powe at No. 49 in the second round. And these are just the 2006 draftees who have made their mark within two years of entering the league.
At this point in the game, it made sense to move Williams, even if it wasn't going to cost the Pacers much to keep him around and wait for the light to go on. The fact is, he wasn't going to play, not with Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy, Brandon Rush and the rest of the crowd they have at the swingman positions. And he wasn't going to be happy sitting on the bench, especially during the final year of a contract that the Pacers had no intention of extending.
Instead of losing him for nothing at season's end, the Pacers got next-to-nothing, notably a veteran who doesn't want to be here, two second-rounders (who only matter if they're used well) and some cash. The hope is, the cash will help make the Jamaal Tinsley trade work for the Denver Nuggets; Bird recently said, "That's in Denver's hands right now."
At first blush, my thought was, why not show a little more patience with Williams? He's only in his third season, which would make him a senior in college. Guys grow up, and some of them even quit hanging around with accused murderers. Heaven knows, Williams has some serious talent, even if he's not quite as good as he thinks he is and doesn't know much about work ethic.
But you put some things together, and it makes sense. Like the fact he never stopped hanging around the wrong people, even when he was embarrassing the organization. Like the fact he didn't get into the kind of condition the Pacers wanted him in this summer. Like the fact he was often at odds with coach Jim O'Brien about a lack of playing time.
Bottom line, he wasn't going to become the kind of player Bird thought he saw when Williams was in college for that one year at Memphis.
The epitaph on the 2006 draft? A disaster.
"When Scottie Pippen went from being an average young guy to blossoming into Scottie Pippen, he said that everything changed when he first started to think about basketball all the time," O'Brien said. "He said once he thought about how he slept, about nutrition, about what he did in the offseason, that's when he became an excellent player. If people only think about basketball when they come in the locker room and lace them up, that's not enough."
That, regrettably, was the case with Williams, who wasn't in top shape this camp and only worked out in Indianapolis less than a quarter of the summer, according to O'Brien.
How could Bird have anticipated that Williams was going to be a less-than-fully-committed draft choice?
Listen, that's why they pay Bird the big bucks, why some general managers get it and some don't. A personnel man has to know as much about a potential draftee's internal fire as his external talents. Bird and the Pacers missed badly on two picks in 2006, two mistakes that a rebuilding team can't make.
The 2008 class of Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert better be the real deal, or Bird will be back on the golf course sooner rather than later.