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Odd Thoughts: Ultimately is this our problem?

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  • Odd Thoughts: Ultimately is this our problem?

    To be blunt this is not going to be a typical end of the year autopsy of the team. I'm not going to go over player by player analysis in fact I may not hit individual players much at all. I'm just going to give you all purpose thoughts on the players as a collective. Does not mean that I won't mention certain players during all of this though.

    If you're ready for it, here it is. All of the players are good enough to be on NBA teams, all of the players individually are good enough to be contributors in some capacity on winning teams. None of the players are good enough to lead a team to a title or to a deep playoff run without adding another star player with them. Ultimately none of them should be sacred cows or untouchable and in all honesty there are some that need to move on for either their sake, our sake or both of our sakes.

    I will address coaching however it most likely is not going to be all that in depth, but obviously after the year we've just had it is kind of like a monkey in the room.

    You'll notice I said it is a monkey because while you certainly will see the monkey in a room it is being overshadowed by the elephant sitting in the room.

    What is the elephant? That is a really good question and it does not have as easy of an answer as you would think. Overall though I am just going label our elephant Pacers Corporate Culture or PCC if you will.

    What do I mean when I say Corporate Culture, well it is going to encompass many things but yes it does branch out into on the floor play.

    But before I type all of that out I want to verify that yes I did watch Kevin Pritchard's year end press conference, yes it was exactly what I thought it would be and yes I felt myself on an emotional rollercoaster where I shifted between overwhelming doom and gloom to blinding rage. At the end I came away questioning my own sanity for both listening to something I knew exactly what would be said and ultimately wondering why I have spent so much of my life dedicated to a team that does not share the same goals that I do.

    Because if there was ever a more PCC statement made than what he said yesterday, I don't know what it is.

    "We take a lot of pride in making the playoffs consistently".

    Now in and of itself that is not a bad statement, nor is it really even a bad thing to do. However I am of the belief that this is the goal of the franchise and by goal they evaluate a year's success based on whether or not they made the playoffs. Not whether they competed in the playoffs or advanced in the playoffs or God forbid winning a title. Just making the playoffs and they will sit around and congratulate each other on a job well done.

    I base this on years and years and years of following this team. Now saying that does not mean that I am saying they don't want to win a title or advance in the playoffs. Sure I think Herb would love to win a title, I think Pritchard and all of them would love to win a title. I just don't believe it is the overriding goal of the franchise and not something that they seek out to achieve.

    Look to be brutally honest with you I have come to the conclusion that Kevin Pritchard has done the one thing that I would not have thought possible in life. (BillS close your eyes) Pritchard has made me long for the days of Donnie Walsh. His press conferences literally make me feel despondent because I just do not take smoke up your *** talking points all that well. I realize that we are not going to get a Larry Brown style press conference (my God can you imagine how glorious his press conference would be), but if we could just avoid a Baghdad Bob press conference I would really appreciate it.

    That being said, I also do not know if I am being totally fair to Pritchard because whenever he has a press conference there are times he slips and the corporate talking points go out the window.
    There is this gem that had to set Uncle Buck on his head.

    "I don't want to be in the middle ground. I want to get in or get out. Out means getting picks (and flipping the roster)."

    See these are not words spoken by members of the PCC, that is tantamount to admitting to tank and we all know that as an organization we don't do that or accept it. You can debate the merits of it one way or the other but what you can't deny is that our President of basketball operations just said that being in the middle is not a place he wants to be.

    Well sadly every single player move he has made has done nothing but build towards the middle. I know I have repeated this ad nauseam this year but I'm doing it again. At 100% health we are not in the same class as Philadelphia, Brooklyn or Milwaukee. There is a decent possibility that Atlanta and New York have passed us by and does anyone really believe that Toronto is going to have another season of such poor play? Not to mention the Wizards who we had zero answers to this year.

    He keeps repeating over and over that he feels that if we have 5 really good players who can score we can compete. Well that's not really a bold statement and frankly it's as vague as can be. What does it mean to compete? Does it mean you are in every game every quarter till the end and still lose? Does it mean that 2 of the 4 quarters you are in it till you lose? You'll notice the one option missing here is win.

    The NBA is a star driven league. I don't care how much some of us hate that and wish it could be anything else. There is a reason the Utah Jazz who have been the best regular season team in the NBA this year is not the favorite to win it all, nor are they even the second or third.

    They are a great team and they have a lot of really good players. They however will not be able to overcome a LeBron or a Kawhi or if somehow they actually make it past them they will not overcome a Durrant. This is the problem the Pacers face. The only time in the last 20 years we have actually been competitive at a high level we had a true bonafide star on our team in Paul George.

    The other big problem that we face year after year with trying to do it this way is this. If you are depending on 4-5 players getting you wins then whenever even one of them gets injured your season basically goes into a tailspin.

    Yes if you depend on a superstar and another star and then good players if your superstar gets hurt you are screwed. But if one of the role players goes down, it typically does not impact the team as much.


    So his stated goal of not being in the middle just flies in the face of his belief that five good players is good enough. It's not. He is actually right about being in the middle and not wanting to be there.

    This is where I believe that the PCC and Pritchard differ. You see I actually believe that Kevin Pritchard knows what's up and he is stuck working for an employer that will not allow him to do what he thinks needs to be done. Because if we look at where this team is now the real problems can be traced to two years ago when Victor tore up his knee. No, not the injury itself although admittedly that was a large part as well. It was in the way we responded to the season ending injury. That part is significant because the Pacers knew almost immediately his recovery time was going to be long and he for fact would not be back for the season or the playoffs.

    We had at the time several expiring contracts and tradable assets and virtually zero possibility of advancing in the playoffs. This is where we get the famous Thad Young conversation where they all sat in Pritchards office and cried tears of love and joy while Thad convinced them to not break up the team and let them give it a go in the playoffs. Yes, those playoffs where they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round and then that summer proceeded to lose all of their free agents for nothing.

    This one moment in time encapsulates the PCC almost more than anything. Yes, they made the playoffs. So in the end was playing 4 games where you were swept and had very few moments where you even actually led in the game worth not accumulating assets? I mean you could argue in some cases that yes playing young players in the playoffs would be a great learning experience and could be valuable going forward. That would be great if that is what we did. However what we did was start and play huge minutes to Bojan Bogdanovic (who we let walk in free agency), the corpse of Wesley Mathews (who we let walk in free agency), Thad Young (who we let walk in free agency), Darren Collison (who retired but we were going to let walk in free agency). The only starter who played in that series who stayed the next season was Myles.

    So you say to yourself well at least the young guys came off of the bench and got valuable time. You would be wrong. We then proceeded to play Cory Joseph (who we let walk in free agency) and Tyreke Evans (who the league took mercy on us and suspended him for substance violations). The only bench player who got significant minutes (and even then he was not really used) and stayed with the team was Doug McDermott.

    Now look I'm not dumb and neither are most of you, they were not going to be able to trade away 6 pending free agents and get something in return and still field a team. Nobody is suggesting that they should have. Also before anyone says it I am very well aware that having so much cap space allowed for them to get T.J. Warren for nothing. Also Brogdan signing was due to cap space as well. Again nobody is going to dispute that. But think for a minute how much different this team would look if instead of once again going all in for the playoffs we would have traded say Thad for a first round draft pick. Either that season or for a future first round pick for say maybe this season. Thad would have gotten you a low level pick because there were plenty of teams competing for a deep playoff run that could and would use a player like Thad. We let him walk, for nothing as a reminder. If he would have gotten us a middle to low first round pick Bojan would have netted you at least the same if not maybe a young prospect coming back with a pick.

    Look it might not have worked out at all, that is always on the table, but the fact that once again they chose this because "We take a lot of pride in making the playoffs consistently" was short sighted, poor stewardship of assets and the team and in my opinion one of the main reasons we are where we are today.

    But here is the rub. I have no idea if that is Kevin Prithchard who did this or Herb Simon. We have found out that Herb is far more hands on over the years than most of us ever thought he was.

    I have always said that I will be forever grateful for the Simons for saving the Pacers and honestly if not saving the city at least not allowing it to go into a hole that might have taken decades to come out from.

    But contrary to what Uncle Buck would have us all believe, the overwhelming opinion of the national media and former players who are now talking heads is that we won't spend money. Not that we do the right thing, not that we take pride in making the playoffs. What you hear from the Zach Lowes, the Bill Simmons, the Kevin O'Conner, the Denise Scotts of the world is that it is well known that our managers are hamstrung because we have ownership that just does not want to spend.

    Now some of that is nonsense of course, we have seen the Simons spend. However they don't do it very often and when Bird was here I wrongly accused him of garbage bin shopping. I believe that he was under orders to not spend over a certain amount and I believe he was limited in how much he could pay each player. That is why you got players like Rodney Stucky, C.J. Miles, Monte Ellis and other crappy players on team friendly deals. Sure we were able to save a buck but in the end once again was it worth it to not advance in the playoffs and waste time playing players who were never going to improve, never going to be part of a serious winning team and who eventually would be gone just as fast as they came.

    Let's deal with this wonderful statement, shall we.

    “Getting the top players is the (goal), but if you can’t get that, my thought has always been: Bring in five quality players – they might not be superstars, but really good basketball players – and those five together might overcome the top level talent,” Pritchard said. “Because we can’t get that.”

    Focus on those last five words. "BECAUSE WE CAN'T GET THAT". Now once again here I am somewhat perplexed with how to deal with my feelings on this because should I just be grateful that Pritchard is being honest and letting us all know right now that we legitimately are wasting our times? I mean go back and re read his first part of that, he is saying MIGHT OVERCOME THE TOP LEVEL TALENT. Notice he didn't say they would or even the weaker reply of they could. He basically said we are just hoping it happens with the underlying tone of "well most likely it won't".

    He goes on to explain why top talent won't come here and never has. There is certainly a ring of truth to what he is saying. We've never been able to sign a big name free agent and honestly our biggest name is David West coming off of a severe knee injury and maybe our best was Bojan who was a little known European player. Obviously we don't trade for them mostly because we typically don't have the assets to trade for them. That happens when you are always drafting in the middle and do not develop strong young talent.

    But I ask this in all sincerity, are there other small markets that just come out and say this out loud? I mean all season long he basically has told all of us that what you have with the Indiana Pacers is a minor league team that cannot attract top players and refuses to do the one thing that they might be able to do to get those top players (get a high lottery pick). So you as a fan basically have to resign yourself to coming to cheer on the home team while knowing up front you are just fodder for the real teams. But gosh darn it, just like the little engine that could we will keep on chugging.

    The OKC thunder have spent the last decade as one of the upper tier teams in the NBA, no they didn't win a title but they were in the title talk every single year and they have had massive stars on their teams. They are now tanking as hard as the 76ers ever did plus they have a plethora of picks that they can either use to draft players or believe me they can package some of those up and get one hell of a return. I talk about them to say this, they (43rd) are a smaller market than we are (25) and yet I've never once seen Sam Presti get behind a mic and talk about how he can't compete with other teams from NY, LA or wherever because big names won't go there.

    Look I freely admit the NBA specifically has a problem with this. I do not for a minute understand why players in the NBA won't go to Indianapolis or Salt Lake City or Portland or other but yet the NFL has no problems attracting stars to Green Bay or Buffalo or Kansas City. I would have no problem for there to be an additional tax on teams in L.A. in particular but the reality is that what they ultimately are going to need to do is have a hard cap. But that is a discussion for another thread.

    But it seems to me the only team in the NBA who just comes out and tells their fan base that no help is on the way in terms of real stars is the Indiana Pacers.

    To me this goes back to the PCC. They have accepted their lot in life and it is now up to us as fans to decide what we want.

    You see, to me anyway, the curtains have been parted and we are seeing backstage. By them admitting that they can't get those kind of players they are laying the groundwork for say "well we can't afford to pay lesser players" so there will be plenty of us lined up to jump on any hand grenade that may be tossed when we sign a bargain bin player for one of those team friendly 10 million a year three year deals with the last year a team option. Thus restarting the cycle that we have been stuck in now for over seven years. Lesser players who compete hard every night, tend to have a better record than you thought they might have who then crash and burn in the post season. Only for us to hear the same crap over and over and over again.

    Sadly they know their market, they know for every one of someone like me there are going to be four or five others who will not accept not making the playoffs. That the home winning record was a real thing for them. You know the types and there are all kinds. So the Pacers will always have cover from some of the die hards.

    But that to me is one of the main reasons I was and still am so disgusted with how they went about this season. Look anyone with a brain knew from about the 20 game mark that this team was not going to be significant in any capacity. By the 40 game mark it was clear (to me anyway) that this was not a good team and it was going to go nowhere.

    With legitimate injury's, no fans in the stands, a horrible home record and a not good overall record this would have been the season to just be honest with everyone and say. Hey, it's not our year. You then look at your tradable assets at the trade deadline and you do NOT stand pat. Doug McDermott could have netted you something decent in a draft pick, not a lottery but middling to lower first round. McConnell might have gotten you a low first round pick, maybe not. But you look at Aaron Holiday and other players and you see what assets you can get. You then instruct the coach that Turner, Sabonis, Brogdan and Lavert are on minute restrictions and you then start resting some of them on certain nights. In other words exactly what the OKC Thunder did. Now which one of us will come back better next season? The answer is who knows but the real answer is that over the next 2-5 years they will have dynamic players (they already do btw in SGA) who will have them back into the thick of the Western Conference while we will still be trying to claim that the twin towers will work.

    I guess we probably should cover the coaching. I'll be honest I don't have a super strong opinion here of him. I am all aboard the PCC being the overriding problem, not the coach. But with that in mind I'll say a couple of things. The Pacers for whatever reason keep claiming that they want to play faster and better offense. They have said this since the early 2000's and every time they hire a coach to run a system they then burden him with players who do not fit their systems and then cry about how we need better defense. You don't hire Jim O'Brien to be your coach and then give him Roy Hibbert to be his center. Well obviously you don't hire Nate B to be the coach and still try and force feed him the twin towers, which Pritchard is still hell bent on doing. It's not fair to the coach you've hired and it really is your fault for hiring a system coach to begin with.

    But look here is the truth about Nate B. If he is as bad behind the scenes to the staff then they need to move on. One of the little known facts here is that one of the major reasons Rick Carlisle was let go by the Pistons is because of the way he treated the non basketball staff. Roaming Gnome had an in with the Pistons back then and shared that with all of us before we even brought Rick back here. So in other words good coach's can be let go for being unprofessional as well as first year rookie coach's.

    Look I say all of this knowing it is easy to set here behind a keyboard and gripe about things that I don't have a full view of. In my day to day life of running a business I've often had to make the exact same decisions that they have made (well not exact but sometimes settling for things instead of demanding excellence) and I'd probably do it again if I had to. This makes me a horrible hypocrite and I know it and believe me I hate it.

    But what all of us are going to have to take away from this season is this. We are most likely going to come back next season with virtually the same exact team intact. We might have a new coach, we might not. But in the end each of us are going to have to decide for ourselves how much emotional investment we want to put into a franchise that for all intents and purposes seems resigned to the fact that they are not going to compete for a title and the goal is to be a tough out.
    Last edited by Peck; 05-26-2021, 03:34 AM.


    Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

  • #2
    Pritchard: “we can’t get super stars to come here”

    (Westbrook, CP3, Harden are available in trades)

    Pritchard: “hey Boston how about sending all this assets to you for broken down Hayward?”



    We all know he offers the Hayward package to Houston for Westbrook and he is a Pacer, problem is somebody like that will make an incompetent GM like Pritchard do his job, expectations grow when you have a super star and is a huge risk for somebody looking to preserve his job forever.
    @WhatTheFFacts: Studies show that sarcasm enhances the ability of the human mind to solve complex problems!

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    • #3
      We could of kept Paul George here if we built a team around him instead of being cheap and signing trash like Ellis, Jefferson and Teague

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      • #4
        About the only hope we have is the draft and strike gold with a Giannis type player
        {o,o}
        |)__)
        -"-"-

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        • #5
          Great analysis, agreed with everything, we will be a team no one will want to play against but won't have any chance of winning a championship.
          Originally posted by Piston Prince
          Bobcat fans telling us to cheer up = epic fail season
          "Josh Smith Re-building the city of Detroit one brick at a time"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by vnzla81 View Post
            Pritchard: “we can’t get super stars to come here”

            (Westbrook, CP3, Harden are available in trades)

            Pritchard: “hey Boston how about sending all this assets to you for broken down Hayward?”



            We all know he offers the Hayward package to Houston for Westbrook and he is a Pacer, problem is somebody like that will make an incompetent GM like Pritchard do his job, expectations grow when you have a super star and is a huge risk for somebody looking to preserve his job forever.
            This! Imagine if we had Westbrook, we'd certainly be in the playoffs right now. Westbrook/Sabonis could have been a nice dynamic duo.
            *removed* Just keep politics and religion completely out of it, please.

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            • #7
              Prediction a super star or two are going to be available next year and Pacers will do nothing to try to get them.
              @WhatTheFFacts: Studies show that sarcasm enhances the ability of the human mind to solve complex problems!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jon Theodore View Post

                This! Imagine if we had Westbrook, we'd certainly be in the playoffs right now. Westbrook/Sabonis could have been a nice dynamic duo.
                Westbrook, Brogdon, LeVert, Brisett, Sabo.


                And yes they are not winning a championship but who cares? compete as hard as you can maybe get to the ECF, show other super stars how you treat Westbrook and they might want to come here, stars see a loser attitude with Pritchard and of course they don’t want to come here.
                @WhatTheFFacts: Studies show that sarcasm enhances the ability of the human mind to solve complex problems!

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                • #9
                  I used to be a NASCAR fan until the early 2000’s when the drivers became less interesting. Now they have totally screwed up the races as well. I say this because I am going to use an old time NASCAR theory as my opinion on what Pacer management is doing. The theory was to try and consistently finish each race in the top 10. Eventually you will get a break and win a race.

                  I think the Pacers want to consistently make the playoffs and hope that eventually they will get enough breaks to win a championship.

                  Personally I think this is a bad plan. If we are just making the playoffs, it will take a lot of breaks for us to win a championship. We should be building a team to be a contender.

                  I pretty much agree with Peck, however I disagree on the idea that the Simons will not spend money. My opinion is that the Simons will spend any amount as long as we stay out of the tax. I think when we have a contender with a legitimate shot at a title, they will go into the tax to make whatever move is necessary to get us a title. Just look at this year’s salary, we are around $129 million and the tax is at $130 million. I think their philosophy is a very good business philosophy that I would do myself.

                  Where the problem may be, in my opinion, is that we have not handled our spending as well as we could have. I am starting to believe that the reason for this may be that the Simons are more involved in the player side of the team than I had thought.

                  I stand by the belief (along with many others on this forum) that you need at least 2-3 all-stars to have a deep run in the playoffs. When I talk about all-stars, I am not necessarily talking about current all-stars. Anyone that has made an all-star team and is still playing at or near his all-star season will qualify. Someone like a Jrue Holiday fits that description.

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                  • #10
                    Won’t get straight A’s if your goal is to graduate.

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                    • #11
                      Also don't miss the fact that one of the reasons stars don't come to Indy has nothing to do with Indy and the small team bs but players and agents not wanting to deal with Pritchard.


                      Don't forget how Paul George and Dipo left, those guys are telling the whole world how bad is to work for somebody like Pritchard, it was so bad PG has not stopped crapping on the team and specially Pritchard since he left.
                      @WhatTheFFacts: Studies show that sarcasm enhances the ability of the human mind to solve complex problems!

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                      • #12
                        The front office is scared to take a big risk in case it fails. I think they would love to win a championship, but don't have the cojones to go out and make the deals necessary to really compete.

                        You cannot win in this league without top tier all stars. I don't think we've ever had one on this team (PG was close, but he become more so when he left, and even now is really more second tier and is a god-awful closer).

                        As the saying goes, **** or get off the pot. That doesn't mean signing second-tier stars to huge contracts (how's that working out Boston?) It means going all in for either top draft picks and hoping you get the next star or going all in on those rare occasions when a star becomes available.

                        We have potentially more tradeable assets right now than I can remember us having in a long time. I know I'm going to be disappointed, but I hope the Pacers make a swing for the fences, get a top 5 pick, and go all in on talent.
                        Danger Zone

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                        • #13
                          Let me just say this.

                          I'm a believer in underlying patterns and processes, that ways of thinking and behaving don't stay confined but those emerge in the larger scope of things.

                          Words like culture, momentum etc aren't just buzzwords to me. They're real. It's clear that our teams FO from the ownership on down, will make changes to get to a playoff team but once that's done they are increasingly risk averse. They will not risk a couple years at the bottom in order to plan for the future.

                          Why? There's no real reason to. The consensus seems to be if the team can show up any given regular season night, play hard and look reasonably competitive, the average Pacers fan isn't paying attention to the standings, playoff seeding or future prospects. Average fan wants to go to a game and be entertained. Whether right or wrong, the more hardcore fan with higher aspirations doesn't move that needle enough to matter.

                          This entire organization is both risk-averse, and content with the REGULAR season not being an abject embarrassment most games.

                          Unfortunately, that culture of complacency doesn't start confined it permeates the locker room, coaching, the entire view of your franchise. One of our positives over the years had been our culture, built during the Reggie/JO/George years of a scrappy underdog team, but that's largely disappeared. I remember how passionate fans were during the latter Reggie years from 1995 on, I can't see that happening right now even if this team did squeak out of the first round.

                          Someone needs to jump up on a da** table or something... because we've lost the Pacer way.
                          Last edited by OneMoreYear; 05-26-2021, 11:14 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Great post! I said it before, but the only chance that we have to be competitive is if somehow Caris Levert develops into a 25ppg all star. If the front office believes this can happen then we should keep this team together. If not i'm on board to go into tank mode.

                            My problem right now with the pacers is that I feel like the front office is afraid to take risks. We put a lot of value on acquiring players that are in good value contracts, but we never swing for the fences. TJ Warren and Caris Levert are prime examples of this. TJ warren is a 20ppg scorer, starting SF that makes 12 million per year. Caris Levert is a 20ppg scorer, starting sg that makes under 20 million per year. When Caris was traded i heard people saying we have him for three more years at under 20 million per year, good value contract. I don't want to hear these words anymore. we need to find difference makers.

                            Why didn't the pacers go after CP3 or Westbrook when they were available? The answer is because they don't want to pay one player 40 million per year. We would rather pay TJ Warren 12 million per year, than to have to pay a difference maker like Westbrook 40 million. There is literally no risk in trading for TJ Warren or Caris. If they become all-stars then everything is great, but if they don't work out who cares? They weren't making that much money anyways. Now there is a lot of risk with taking on CP3 or Westbrook, but look at the suns this year. The reward is a lot higher.

                            I'm glad Peck made this post because we discuss amany of the pacers problems on here, but it looks like the main problem is the front office mindset.

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                            • #15
                              One thing that's frustrating is that we can just never let a season go even when there is no hope. This year sort of reminded me of 08-09 - a trash year where we went on a meaningless late season hot streak to mess our draft position up. We haven't had a singled digit draft pick since 1989 when we took George McCloud at 7 (though we've been 10 a couple times, including the PG year). A big reason for that is that we've simply had a lot of good teams over the last 30 years, but another large reason for it is that we can just never let the lost seasons be truly lost.

                              I get that you can't coach players to throw games, but I just wish that for one time, we could be really really really bad instead of in the in-between mediocre/bad team like we had this year that just fools people and piles up worthless end of the season wins that get some people excited for nothing.....and ulitmately just screw up the draft position.

                              To me a bad season is a bad season. I don't see how anyone could take glee in a trash team like this year making some worthless end of the year charge. If we have a bad team, I wish it could just be flat out awful so that we could get a super high pick for once.

                              This was the perfect tank year because there were attendance restrictions, which meant that the classic excuse of "they can't tank because they have to keep selling tickets!" had no merit this year. It really was the perfect year to go full in on tanking. But the Pacers just can never let go of lost seasons. It was like that a dozen years ago and will be like that in a dozen years from now.

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