Morning Shootaround — April 29



VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played April 28

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Pacers, Vogel ponder lineup changes | Heat soak in another sweep | Report: Ex-Warriors assistant taped conversations | Rockets’ Alexander offers solution for Sterling issue

No. 1: Pacers, Vogel ponder changes after Game 5 shocker —  As our own Steve Aschburner pointed out last night, the Pacers find themselves and their Finals-hopeful season on the brink after a Game 5 loss at home to the Hawks. A telling second quarter — in which Atlanta outscored Indiana 41-19, mostly on the heroics of reserve Mike Scott — has the Pacers thinking some lineup changes will be necessary for Game 6, although even that notion is a bit mixed. Mike Moneith at Pacers.com has more on the team’s state after the loss:

This qualifies as a desperate time, and therefore calls for a desperate measure.

Then again, is it really desperate to change the starting lineup when you’re down 3-2 and in danger of becoming the sixth No. 1 seed in NBA history to lose to a No. 8 seed? The bold thing would be to go with the status quo.

“I consider everything at this point,” Frank Vogel said in the wake of his team’s 107-97 loss to the Hawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday.

Changes to the starting lineup, or even playing rotation, aren’t as simple they’re often made out to be, given the lack of time for preparation between games in a playoff series, but a team trailing 3-2 doesn’t have the luxury of getting virtually nothing from its starting center. None of the voices heard in the Pacers’ somber postgame locker room could be heard calling for a drastic change. David West even went so far as to say “we can’t change our starting group.”

When they were down 30 midway through the third quarter, the Pacers’ lineup consisted of Chris Copeland, C.J. Watson, Paul George, David West and George Hill. That group got Atlanta’s lead down to 20 by the end of the period. Lance Stephenson and Ian Mahinmi started the fourth quarter but Mahinmi was subbed out less than three minutes later and Stephenson was back on the bench with 5:23 left. The group that started the comeback from 30 down finished the game from there, and got within nine points twice before it was too late. Their last reasonable hope came after Paul Millsap missed twice and the Pacers got the ball back, but George missed a three-pointer with 1:10 left that could have made it a six-point game.

Still, the lineup worked.


VIDEO: Indiana’s players discuss the shocking Game 5 defeat

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No. 2: Heat soak in another first-round sweepThrough the many ups and downs of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” era, one thing has been reliable: beating the Charlotte Bobcats. Miami did just that last night in Game 4, finishing off their first-round series with Charlotte and improving to 19-0 vs. the Bobcats in the Big Three era. Miami isn’t taking this series win for granted but will surely enjoy the extra rest an early dismissal of the Bobcats gives them, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

For now, these past four matchups against the Charlotte Bobcats felt more like games Nos. 83, 84, 85 and 86 of a regular season that never quite brought out the championship best in Erik Spoelstra‘s team.   Completing their second first-round sweep in as many seasons, the Heat took advantage of a Charlotte lineup lacking hobbled center Al Jefferson in a 109-98 victory Monday night at Time Warner Cable Arena that now will give them at least five days off, perhaps even more.

“This does not get old and we do not take it for granted, having the opportunity to move on to another round,” Spoelstra said when it was over. “We’re very pleased that we’re able to move on and we’re not jaded enough that we don’t enjoy this process.”

“The best thing about this series is that we improved every game,” said LeBron James, who closed the series averaging 30 points on .557 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists. “And that’s what it’s about, you improve every game.

“I feel pretty good. I’m getting to my game.”

“When you get a team on the ropes, you don’t want to let them have life,” Dwyane Wade said.

For the Heat, there now is time to move into a heightened playoff state on the practice court.

“I’m sure our guys will love it,” Spoelstra said of getting time off, “but the most important thing is you have a chance to move on.”


VIDEO: Inside the NBA’s crew looks ahead to who the Heat might face next

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No. 3: Report: Ex-Warriors assistant taped conversations — The Golden State Warriors’ coaching staff under Mark Jackson has seen its share of changes since the season began. On March 25, assistant coach Brian Scalabrine was demoted to the NBA D-League because of what was called a “difference in philosophies” with Jackson. On April 5, Warriors assistant coach Darren Erman was fired for, as GM Bob Myers put it, a “violation of company policy.” Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports that Erman’s firing may have had to specifically do with him secretly taping conversations between the coaching staff:

Sources said Erman, who was coach Mark Jackson’s second assistant, would record coaches’ meetings, meetings between the coaches and players, and informal discussions among coaches that took place in the team’s coaches room — all without the participants’ knowledge.

“He was taping everything,” one source said. “Taping pregame speeches wouldn’t have been that bad, but he was taping guys just sitting around talking in the coaches’ office.”

Sometimes Erman would be present during the tapings. Other times, he would leave the room and leave his phone behind to record conversations the other coaches were having.

It is unclear what Erman did with the recordings. The sources weren’t sure if he shared them with the club’s owners or front office executives.

“Was he taping it for himself or was he taping it for management? That’s not known,” a source said. “But he had a lot of communication with members of the front office.”

The Warriors’ other coaches began noticing a change in Erman’s demeanor and behavior in March, a source said. A few weeks later, they discovered that he was recording them. After being caught, Erman told the club he had been recording the conversations for three weeks. Jackson kept Erman on his staff for another week before Warriors’ management fired him.

***

No. 4: Rockets owner has own solution for Sterling situation — We will all find out today (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV & NBA.com) what the NBA’s ruling will be about Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling and his alleged comments that came to light over the weekend. Many an NBA voice has chimed in on the situation, from Mavs owner Mark Cuban to Warriors coach Mark Jackson to others all along the spectrum. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has his own solution for the issue, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports: 

Calling the comments “disgusting,” Alexander said he told NBA commissioner Adam Silver he should stab “a sword” into the heart of Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers.

“I thought that there’s got to be a way to disrupt him from owning the team,” said Alexander, who after 20 years owning the Rockets is one of the longest tenured owners in the NBA. “I gave him the sword to deal with this. I said, ‘Let the players become free agents.’”

Alexander said the goal of his suggestion was not to break up the Clippers, considered among the league’s top teams, or even to punish Sterling. He said the objective was solely to back Sterling into a corner from which he will choose to sell the Clippers.

The NBA constitution does not allow the league owners to remove Sterling, Alexander said. But he added that the NBA needed to take steps to drive Sterling from the league.

“This kind of behavior can’t be allowed in the NBA by owners, players or anybody,” Alexander said. “This guy has no place in the family of the NBA. Whatever it takes, we have to make sure this kind of event never happens again.”

The first step to ensuring that, he said, was to get Sterling out of the league.

“I mentioned that to Adam,” Alexander said. “I told Adam I don’t think he can be removed because the constitution (of the NBA) only allows him to be removed except for gambling. I’m not sure that legally can be done. But if he loses his players, nobody is going to want to go there. He’ll only be able to get a player that is worth $2 million and will play for $12 (million.) And who is going to want to coach there?

“If you’re a player in the NBA you don’t want to play for somebody like that. If you worked for a company, you would walk away and say, ‘I’m gone.” I think the players should have that right.”

Though Alexander had referred to the NBA “family,” and said that he and Silver did discuss if there was anything that could have been done sooner to sanction or even remove Sterling, he was especially dismayed by the suggestion that he and other NBA owners are in any way represented by Sterling. Though they share inclusion in a 30-member club, and an even smaller group of owners with decades long place in the league, Alexander said theirs is more of a forced association.

“I’m really upset that some of the press has lumped us together as one,” Alexander said. “We are 30 different individuals and most of us are not even friends. We are business associates. To lump us together is beyond the pale.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Magic have reportedly reached out to their 2005 Draft pick, Fran Vasquez, to gauge his interest in coming over to the NBA from Spain … Magic Johnson, via Twitter, shoots down talk that he’s interested in buying the L.A. Clippers … If the Hawks end up eliminating the Pacers in the first round, is it really an upset? …

ICYMI OF THE NIGHT: The guys over at The Starters are sure to enjoy this one … a playoff game dunk “wedgie”, courtesy of the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson


VIDEO: Lance Stephenson’s dunk ‘wedgie’ during Game 5 last night

25 Comments

  1. Weedmoker says:

    Easy final for Miami. Thx Pacers! :)

  2. forestbynum says:

    Pacers need Hibbert to give boost in the post. You can’t teach 7’2″ and despite nagging injuries, he has to show up. They may be faster, but he should have enough power to dominate…no excuses, just results! Instead of the Pacers adjusting to the Hawks, they need to force Millsap and every one else to stop Hibbert and change the pace.

    My suggestion to the Donald Sterling scenario is allow another team to be created over the summer and use the closest D-league site to host the games. Once Mr. Sterling realizes no one wants to play under that brand any more because it is not profitable, he will get out the game. Then have the owners vote to put a lifetime ban on Donald Sterling. No more Donald, players can still be paid, and fans can be happening. In order to do this, we need a corporate effort from the NBA to place competent executives and a collection of ex players to support the team like a corporation. I am sure there are 100 ex NBA greats that would love to invest 1% into the new club. Call them the Freedom Fighters or the spirit of America!

    Big shoutout to Sekou and the gang..love the podcast! Inspiration to anyone who seeks to be greater.

    Watch out for dem’ Pels in 2015, (Anthony Davis baby baby!)
    Forest D. Bynum

  3. Will says:

    The sad thing about all of this is that I am a Clippers fan and was rooting for my team to go all the way. I know that for the Clippers to win, it does not necessarily mean that the team won it for the owner but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to know that if the Clippers win, Donald Sterling has one also.
    By the way I am multiracial which in part speaks on the views of how I feel about the Sterling situation

  4. jsodu001 says:

    Wrong Drew. That’s not what’s wrong with this team. It started since the All-Star Break by trading Danny Granger away and bringing in Evan Turner. From what I read is when Turner and Lance Stephenson. Paul George deserves that contract. It also means yes everyone knows what their role on the team. Hibbert is “supposed to be” the “Defensive stopper giant” and he isn’t playing like one. George an all star and last I heard is one of few players scoring double doubles, in fact also their leading scorer in the first round.

    And remember question: you still don’t get it. It’s not whether or not it should have been a private conversation or if he broke a law, what he says is truly offensive and disgraceful. I’m hoping today’s news conference can do him justice. He said, “Don’t bring black people to my games.” Uh hello… your team is made of mostly players that ARE BLACK. That’s what I’m not understanding with the comments here on that. Some views should be kept secretive and not expressed especially like this. His girlfriend .. well she is also the blame releasing tapes before a pivotal playoff game. You don’t know who hears it. When you have MICHAEL JORDAN saying something on an issue he will not usually comment on, you’re doing something wrong and needs to be addressed. I’m offended by this because I’m asian (or minorities) on that tape. No race is better than another in this country and people have to understand that. I have friends that are black and they’re great people who share some of the same values and even same religious beliefs as I do. Black men play for him and he’s enjoying the accolades, fame and money from people HE DOESN”T LIKE.

    • justsayin says:

      His racism is a little more insidious than that. It takes the form of prejudice instead of hate. He doesn’t automaticaly dislike minorities but he holds fast to stereotyping them as being forever different. Those are some poisonous preconceptions.

      He otoh seemed to be more concerned with appearances than anything. He was terrified his friends would see her instagram and think his cradle-robbed mistress was sleeping around.

      • justsayin says:

        The one bit of hilarity – did he tell her to sleep with Magic Johnson?

        Considering his condition – is DS senile or just mean?

  5. Game Time says:

    I don’t thing the solution to have the players walk would work. He had one of the worst teams in the league for years and was fine with it. The only solution that might make him think about selling is fans boycotting games and then he would start to lose money having to pay players, but that solution would require at least a full season for him to feel the damage.

  6. ANdre Bynum says:

    I am the last hope of INDIANA PACERS

  7. jo says:

    Your solution to the Pacers problems is extremely unrealistic. No starting lineup is going to average 21/11, theres only like five 20/10 guys in the league,

  8. GoRaps says:

    u droppin mad jewels Drew! although I like Vogel and think he needs some time like Doc Rivers did but u right for the most part Drew.
    Pacers would have lost 4-2 to Heat anyway so why not get em out now, Hawks? lol

  9. G says:

    Making the players become free agents will kill the Clips. Their fans, who have been starving for a decent product, will throw in the towel, and they will end up moving to Bangor or Little Rock. End story, won’t work. Can’t they just elevate Sterling’s stress levels so high he strokes out?

  10. spacer20 says:

    Pacers just dont have the chemistry to prerform together right now.. it might take a while.. they gonna be like the Knick, bunch of talents that can not work together. Everyone want to be the highest paid player, or star player. that doesn’t work. You gotta know your place.

  11. question says:

    As bad as what Sterling said, he did not break any rules/laws. It was a private conversation between himself and his “girlfriend”, that became public. His views ARE wrong, but they are his views. I am not standing up for Sterling but I am saying everyone have are own personal views on things, and he has the right to do so. Given that his conversation was made public, he can apologize, but his views will probably remane the same. What can the NBA actually do to punish this guy? Did he actually break a rule or law? Or does he just have a messed up view on culture/ race?

    • TVF says:

      You’re right. This is getting way out of proportion. How can a private conversation overshadow the whole basketball world?? What he said (or would have been saying) is definitely wrong, but apparently everyone knows how bizar this guy is. Let us enjoy the highly entertaining and unpredictable playoffs, instead of paying attention to a frustrated man!!

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        Clipper players should not use this mess as an excuse. Come on. Have some maturity. It shouldn’t affect how you normally play NBA games.

        Now, say, it was someone on the Clipper coaching staff that said those terrible things, then it would be a big deal.

        But come on. NBA players are micromanaged by coaching staffs. Coaches manage the games. Get your players focused right. Ignore this whole mess. Don’t allow this to distract you. COME ON!

  12. Drew says:

    The Pacers playoff problems started at the signing of Paul George to a long term contract.
    The Pacers playoff problems started at the beginning of the season with their main goal to get Home Court Advantage in Game 7. Win the East, but they lost focus on playing Playoff Basketball with new players that Bird brought in.
    The Pacers playoff problems started at the beginning of the season with Coach Vogel not having a Playoff Game Plan.
    The Pacers playoff problems started at the beginning of the season with Lance Stephenson essentially winning most of the games. May be he wanted a Big Contract, may be the coach had no game plan.
    The Pacers playoff problems started at the beginning of the season with “Hero Basketball”, as Roy Hibbert voiced.

    Hibbert has been isolated from the team’s philosophy all season. His shots were down, his involvement was down. He had no voice on the team. They had a new Max Player and another want-to-be Max Player in the making. Why would Hibbert then be expected to play Playoff Basketball at this point?

    The Pacers playoff problems started at the beginning of the season with the same coach who pulled Hibbert in the East Finals last year.

    Hibbert is an All Start player, may be the only All Start player for the Pacers, along with David West. Both great players.

    Solution for the start of a regular season with lots of good players: demand 21 and 11 from each of the starting 5 and don’t go over unless all allowed to get 21 and 11. This is a Pacer Stat aka Rick Smits: they won most games when Rick went for 21 and 11, not 20, not 19, but 21.

    • question says:

      The Pacers problems started when Hibbert opened his big mouth starting with last year, and how he “deserved the DOPY award” and started dropping the F-bomb publically.

      • Liza says:

        The Pacers problems continued when Bird decided to trade away a Leader/Voice in the Locker room and all time Pacer (Granger) and bring in a guy who is not used to coming off the bench(Turner), and a guy who is used to sitting, oops I mean sulking, on the bench(Bynum)…

  13. Yep, this is the best solution I heard this far. Let the players & coaching staff become free agents & release them all from contract duties regarding LAC.

    Everybody can decide for themselves how to deal with it…except for Donald Sterling. He can keep his organisation but….he will feel the punishment when no one wants to play anymore for him. He might decide than to leave & sell LAC which can result in keeping the current roster.

    At this point Donald messed up everything for players, fans, sponsors & everybody that loves the game & respect people no matter their race or colour of their skin.

  14. wootie says:

    pacers is done for.

  15. okc2014 says:

    Am I still dreaming? I went to sleep last night before watching the Hawks take a 3 game lead over the Pacers. And the next game is here at the Phillips Arena? What’s going on? I love the Hawks, cah caw, but this doesn’t seem real! Okay then, Let’s Go Hawks!