Indiana Pacers

Central Notes: Jordan, Bucks, Pacers, James

The Bucks remain interested in acquiring DeAndre Jordan and it was reported last week that Milwaukee was the team most likely to land the center. However, Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) hears that the Bucks are no longer the frontrunners for Jordan’s services. The scribe did not specify which team is the most likely to acquire the 29-year-old.

Jordan can become an unrestricted free agent if he turns down his player option, which is worth slightly over $24.1MM, and he has been the subject of trade rumors with the Clippers having an up-and-down season. He’s currently nursing a left ankle injury and has missed the team’s last three contests.

Any team looking to make a deal for the center will likely want to see him come back at full strength before pulling the trigger on a trade and with this season’s early trade deadline (February 8), time is ticking.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • Pacers president Kevin Pritchard is thrilled with the trade that netted the team Victor Oladipo, as Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star passes along.“From our perspective, we targeted Victor and [Domantas Sabonis]. It wasn’t by chance. They are two young players we wanted. Victor has been like a breath of fresh air. What’s that saying, High tide lifts all boats? That’s what he’s been for us,” the executive said. Indiana owns a record of 24-20 this season and is in the thick of the Eastern Conference’s playoff race.
  • The Cavaliers need to trade for a rim protector, Bill Livingston of The Cleveland Plain Dealer contends. Livingston names Jordan as a player who would help Cleveland with their defensive woes.
  • LeBron James, who is expected to turn down his player option worth over $35.6MM and become a free agent at the end of the season, may be having his most impressive season to date, Nate Wolf of NBAMath contends. Wolf crunches the numbers and also finds that LBJ is having the best season ever for anyone at the age of 33.

Myles Turner To Miss At Least Next Four Games

Pacers center Myles Turner has missed his club’s last three games and has already been ruled out of the remaining four contests on Indiana’s current road trip, the team announced today in a press release. Turner won’t require surgery, but he has been diagnosed with a ligament sprain and muscle strain in that troublesome elbow, and isn’t close to returning. Following the Pacers’ current road trip, Turner will be considered week to week, according to the team.

Pacers Recall Big Man Anigbogu From Fort Wayne

  • The Pacers recalled center Ike Anigbogu from their G League affiliate in Fort Wayne, the team announced on its website. While the rookie has played sparingly with the big league club, he’s averaged 5.9 point, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in ten starts with the Mad Ants this season.

Pacers Sign Ben Moore To Two-Way Contract

12:57pm: The Pacers have officially signed Moore to a two-way contract, the club announced today in a press release.

9:02am: The Pacers will fill their open two-way slot by signing former SMU forward Ben Moore, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Moore will slide into the two-way opening created last month when Indiana signed two-way player Alex Poythress to a standard NBA contract.

Moore, 22, initially joined the Pacers as an undrafted rookie last summer, participating in training camp with the club before being waived at the end of the preseason. Moore joined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s G League team, as an affiliate player, and has appeared in 24 games for the club this season, averaging 11.0 PPG and 6.6 RPG.

On his new two-way deal, Moore figures to continue to spend most of his time with the Mad Ants, but the agreement will also make him eligible to see some action with the NBA team in Indiana. Moore will be a limited to a prorated portion of the standard 45-day NBA limit, which should work out to 23 days.

The Pacers were one of seven teams with an open slot for a two-way player. Those other six clubs will have until January 15 to fill their openings.

Pacers Could Bring Wilkins Back After Trade Deadline

Damien Wilkins, who was recently waived by the Pacers, envisions a future for himself in the NBA beyond playing for a team, as he tells David Aldridge of

  • A source tells Aldridge (same piece) that the Pacers could look to bring back Wilkins after the trade deadline. The soon-to-be 38-year-old averaged 1.7 points during his 19 contests with Indiana.

Pacers To Waive Damien Wilkins

2:45pm: The Pacers have officially requested release waivers on Wilkins, thus ending his stint with the team, the organization announced in a press release.

12:57pm: The Pacers have decided to waive Damien Wilkins, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. The 37-year-old forward had a $2,116,995 guarantee that would have kicked in if he were kept on the roster past today.

Wilkins had been out of the league for four seasons before earning a roster spot with Indiana in the preseason. He was first signed by the SuperSonics in 2004 and played for six NBA teams throughout his career.

Wilkins averaged 1.7 points and 8.0 minutes of playing time in 19 games with the Pacers and made his only start of the season last night.


Pacers Sent Ike Anigbogu Back To G League

  • The Pacers have assigned rookie center Ike Anigbogu to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. The NBA’s youngest active player, Anigbogu has appeared in seven games so far for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s G League affiliate, averaging 6.6 PPG and 6.7 RPG.

Lakers Notes: George, Lopez, Ball, Kuzma

The Thunder have a pair of Staples Center dates on their schedule this week, with games against the Lakers on Wednesday and the Clippers on Thursday. As a result, Paul George has been prompted by reporters to revisit his reported desire to be dealt to the Lakers this past offseason. Asked about that on Tuesday, George confirmed that he would have “loved to go back home and play for my city,” but called the deal that sent him to Oklahoma City a “win-win.”

Of course, it wasn’t necessarily a “win” for the Lakers, who missed out on George and were subsequently fined $500K for tampering with the Pacers. The NBA’s official announcement on that fine suggested that GM Rob Pelinka had improper contact with George’s agent, but the former Pacers forward suggested today that the penalty stemmed from interactions he had with Lakers associate head coach Brian Shaw.

“There was no tampering at all,” George said of the Lakers and his conversations with Shaw (link via Bill Oram of The Orange County Register). “The only thing me and B-Shaw ever spoke about was fishing, and challenge each other on fishing trips. B-Shaw has way, way, way better class than to try to recruit me.”

Sources confirmed to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that the league’s investigation did probe the relationship between George and Shaw, but found no evidence of tampering on that front.

Here’s more on the Lakers, including another note on George:

  • Russell Westbrook isn’t preparing a sales pitch for George to keep him in Oklahoma City and away from the Lakers, preferring to let the Thunder’s results speak for themselves, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “Sales pitch is when we win a championship,” Westbrook said. “Beat that pitch.”
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether or not it makes sense for the Lakers to try to push to acquire George before the trade deadline. Of course, as Pincus acknowledges, unless the Thunder slump in the coming weeks, George probably won’t be on the block.
  • Having been initially ruled questionable for Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder, Lakers center Brook Lopez will be available to play, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). Lonzo Ball will miss tonight’s game and is day-to-day.
  • Speaking of Ball, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report revisits the 2017 NBA draft and suggests that if teams were to re-draft today, Ball would slip to No. 4 instead of going second overall to the Lakers. Wasserman has Markelle Fultz going to the Lakers at No. 2, with the Sixers using the top pick on Jayson Tatum. Kyle Kuzma also soars into the lottery in Wasserman’s hypothetical re-draft, going fifth overall to Sacramento.

MacMullan’s Latest: Irving, LeBron, Cavs, Suns

With Isaiah Thomas having returned to the Cavaliers on Tuesday, and the Cavs now poised to square off against the Celtics on Wednesday, it only makes sense to revisit one of the 2017 offseason’s biggest trades. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan has done just that, taking a deep dive into the factors that led to Kyrie Irving heading from Cleveland to Boston.

Along the way, MacMullan passes along several noteworthy tidbits — while the whole piece is worth checking out, especially for Cavs and Celtics fans, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting details below:

  • While Irving made his trade request in July, the Cavaliers explored the possibility of moving the point guard in June, which MacMullan suggests contributed to Irving’s decision to ask out of Cleveland. “They didn’t want me there,” Irving said of the Cavs. Former teammate LeBron James disputes that notion, which he says “makes absolutely no sense.”
  • One deal the Cavs explored in June would have sent Irving and Channing Frye to the Suns and resulted in both Paul George and Eric Bledsoe landing in Cleveland. However, Phoenix balked at that deal, since the club was unwilling to give up the No. 4 overall pick, says MacMullan. A few days later, the Pacers dealt George to the Thunder instead.
  • Although no formal offer was made during those negotiations, Irving caught wind of the talks and believed they were orchestrated by James’ camp, since LeBron shares an agent with Bledsoe. Team and league sources suggest otherwise, telling MacMullan that former Cavs GM David Griffin sensed that an Irving trade request may be coming and initiated talks with the Suns.
  • When Irving and his agent met with the Cavaliers on July 9, they pressed owner Dan Gilbert about the team’s direction, and mentioned the Spurs, Knicks, and Timberwolves as preferred landing spots for Irving. Boston didn’t come up during that meeting, but Gilbert coveted the Nets‘ 2018 first-round pick that was held by the Celtics, and Irving’s camp didn’t oppose a deal to the C’s.
  • When the Celtics emerged as a viable trade partner for Irving and the Cavs, Gilbert went to James and attempted to secure a promise that he’d stay in Cleveland beyond the 2017/18 season, but LeBron declined to commit, sources tell MacMullan.
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