Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pacers' Rookie Orlando Johnson Sits Down For A Few Question About The Team's Expectations This Season As Well As Other Interesting Things

Coming out of a smaller school,  Orlando Johnson was flying under the radar, but a great set of skills and a solid physique have helped him reach the NBA following his senior season at UC Santa Barbara. Averaging 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last year, the 6’5”, 205-pound shooting guard has left UCSB as the school’s all-time leading scorer, having received first-team All-Big West honors in both his junior and senior seasons.

Johnson enters the league with a deadly combination of shooting and scoring ability, shooting 42.7% from beyond the arc last season at UCSB. A perimeter player who can score seemingly anywhere on the floor, he can create enough space for himself to shoot off the dribble in the isolation game. Also a good catch-and-shoot guy , Johnson has added a mid-range game to his arsenal. The Pacers got a steal in this guy, as he will have an immediate impact off the bench this season.

Today I got the chance to sit down and ask the Pacers' rookie  a few questions about his expectations on the season as well as some other interesting things , below are the questions and OJ's responses.

Question:  Has playing in the NBA always been a dream of yours?

OJ:  It has always been a dream for me. Growing up I just wanted to have a chance to show and prove I'm one of the best, now it's time to show why I'm with tis opportunity.

Question: What was your first thought when you got news that you were going to be a Pacer?

OJ: When I realized I was a Pacer I was just in shock because they were up there on the teams I felt I really could help. I was excited to be a Pacer  because of their tradition and how good the organization was. Also, I would have a chance to work with and learn from Bird.

Question: What do you think you can bring to the Indiana Pacers?

OJ: Toughness, shooter, rebounder, scorer, for the guard position, and someone who won't back down from anyone. A guy who will bring IT night in and night out.

Question: What are your expectations for the team this year?

OJ: I feel we are coming off a great run last year. Now it's time to keep working to get better. I feel we have the right pieces to make another great run, hopefully to a title.

Question: What is your ultimate career goal as an NBA player?

OJ: My ultimate career goal is to maximize my potential as a player and keep pushing myself to be great. Also, be considered a winner when it's all said and done.

Question: How tough is it transitioning to a new city, coming all the way from California?

OJ: I feel like it will be more of an adventure than tough. I'm hoping to have my family or best friends be there with me so we can enjoy the experience together. I don't think it will be too bad. I like the feel of the town, hardworking and laid back, like me.

Question: Will you be carrying anyone else's bags on the road this year, being that you're a rookie?

OJ: I think that's just a part of being welcomed to the team and I'll just have to embrace it.

Question: What is the first thing you will purchase with your first check?

OJ: A place to live. Although I love the Conrad (Downtown Hotel), I want to have a place to call my home.

Question: What is your favorite place to eat in Indy so far?

OJ: Kilroys, because it's the only restaurant I think I've been to. Their bread sticks are the best I've ever had.

Question: Who is your favorite athlete and why?

OJ: Shaquille O'neal because he was so dominate and relentless. I take the same approach when I play, I back down from no one.

I would again like to thank OJ for his time to do this interview and if you would like to keep up with him follow his twitter account: @Pace_O11

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pacers Summer League Recap, Including Player Performance Grades

Larry Bird and Head Coach Frank Vogel look on as the Pacers take the court in Orlando.

The Pacers took part in the 11 team Orlando summer league again this year. Starting out with strong 2-0 start, but then failing to win any of their last three match ups. Despite the not so good record in the league, there were a few Pacers players that had something to prove and they absolutely did.

The first player that really proved he could play at the NBA level is the Pacers' 2nd round pick (via draft night  trade from Sacramento), Orlando Johnson. Johnson had a fantastic debut against the 76ers, finishing with 19 points and 9 rebounds as well as leading the team in Minutes played. Only 3 of Johnson's 19 points came from beyond the arc because that is simply not his game. He prefers to drive by his defender, doing so a majority of the time and either finishes or draws a foul on the help side defender. With his great driving ability his defenders would often give him some space on the perimeter and that's when the 6'5 Johnson would pull out his very effective pull up jumper. Johnson certainly is a problem for many defenders because you just don't know what he's going to do, the kid can flat out score in a variety of ways. If there is one thing that Johnson needs to work on, it's his free throw shooting. Being a player who can draw fouls so easily he needs to be able to knock down the shots from the line to become more effective. Orlando Johnson definitely has the potential to become the player who can create his own shot that the Pacers have desperately needed over the years.I'd give him a solid B+ performance over the course of the summer league.

Next up is the Pacers' 1st round pick, Miles Plumlee. The front office was torn to shreds by Pacers' fans on draft night when the commissioner announced that the Pacers had selected Plumlee with the 26th overall pick. The Pacers' brass claimed that the pick was made in an effort to replace Jeff Foster, the recently retired Center who was know for his rebounding and scrappy play. Plumlee seemed to live up to that title in the summer league, averaging nearly a double double over the course of the 5 game schedule. His ability to consistently rebound was probably the most impressive aspect of his play. The Pacers won't be going to Plumlee much for scoring so any points he can provide will be considered a bonus on top of his terrific ability to rebound. Plumlee has also been known for his great athleticism and showed why with a couple of monster slams against the Boston Celtics in game 3 of the summer league. Having an athletic big man is essential in the NBA so the Pacers could probably get some quality minutes out of Miles in the upcoming season when Hibbert comes to the bench for a rest. Plumlee also gets a B+ for his summer league performance.

Finally, another impressive performance was that of the 'Veteran' of the summer league team, Lance Stephenson. Veteran is a tough term to put on Lance because despite his tenure with the Pacers, he was still the youngest member on the summer league roster. Stephenson's maturity and decision making have been questioned ever since he became a Pacer after only spending one season playing college ball but after this summer league I am convinced that Lance is ready. In game 2 of the league, against the Oklahoma City Thunder Stephenson put up 28 points 7 assists and 3 rebounds. Perhaps the most impressive stat of his game was that he had 0 turnovers to go along with those 7 assists. That proves to me that his decision making has improved tremendously along with his court vision. Another aspect of Lance's game that showed improvement was his perimeter shooting ability. He not only shot the ball well from beyond the arc all week, but also his shot selection was great. No forced shots or shots coming too early in the shot clock. Overall Stephenson had a very good week of play in Orlando, earning him a grade of A+.

NOTE: Lance Stephenson and Miles Plumlee were both selected to the All-Summer League 1st team.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pacers Fans, Welcome Gerald Green and DJ Augustin To Indiana Both Have Officially Agreed To Deals With The Pacers

Gerald Green with former team, Brooklyn Nets.
Today the Pacers finalized a 3 year 10.5 million dollar deal with SF Gerald Green as well a 1 year 3.5 million dollar deal with PG DJ Augustin. These two signings come in an effort to improve a somewhat weak bench that caused the Pacers some problems during last year's playoffs.

Gerald Green was in a Nets uniform last year, being signed to a 10 day contract mid-season. During those 10 days Green played so well that the Nets kept him around for the remainder of the season and the Nets weren't the only team that saw how well Green was performing. Once free agency came around, the 6'8 wing was drawing interest from multiple teams including the Indiana Pacers. It didn't take the Pacers long to offer up a 3 year 10.5 million dollar contract to the once 10 day contract player. Green gladly accepted the deal and is now a member of the Indiana Pacers. Green, a very athletic small forward/shooting guard, shot nearly 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc last season. Couple that with his tremendous ability to drive into the lane and either finish at/above the rim or find an open teammate on the perimeter and you have that scoring threat the Pacers desperately needed coming off the bench.

The next signee is former Bobcats' PG DJ Augustin. Augustin was set to be a restricted free agent this offseason but once Charlotte acquired Ramon Sessions from the Lakers, the Bobcats retracted their qualifying offer to Augustin making if an unrestricted free agent. That's when the Pacers jumped on the opportunity to sign the PG. Having just dealt their backup PG to Dallas the day before, they needed a replacement. Augustine is a good passer and floor general but can also score the ball in a variety of ways. He averaged 11.1 ppg along with 6.5 assists per game on a terrible Charlotte team so his assist number will likely rise with the players he will now have on his team.

These two signings,along with the addition of Ian Mahinmi, were great moves by the Pacers. The goal was to get a quality back up to Roy Hibbert and improve the bench, both were accomplished. Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard deserve a lot of credit for getting this done.
DJ Augustin with former team, Charlotte Bobcats.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trade: PG Darren Collison and Swingman Dahntay Jones are headed To Dallas In Exchange For Big Man Ian Mahinmi

Tonight was a tough night to swallow for Pacers' fans abroad. When news got out that the team would be dealing PG Darren Collison and wing Dahntay Jones to the Dallas Mavericks for 6'11 center Ian Mahinmi there was an absolute uproar across the city of Indianapolis as fans thought that the Pacers got the short end of the stick in this deal. To the naked eye, yes that might seem to be true, but let's go deeper into the trade and see what it really means for the Pacers.

Darren Collison was in the final year of his 4yr 6.4 million dollar contract and would become a restricted free agent following this upcoming season, meaning that the Pacers would likely have had to overpay to bring him back next year anyway. Collison is set to make 2.3 million in this final year and would be saving the Pacers 1.2 million dollars in a Mavericks uniform. Collison ,a starting caliber PG, was not going to stick around for a bench role after next season when he becomes a free agent anyway so it's best the Pacers' get something for him rather than just let him walk next year.

The other player the Pacers are shipping out is Swingman, Dahntay Jones. Dahntay had slowly been fading in the Pacers' rotation the last couple season. Jones was under contract with the Pacers on a 4 yr. 11 million dollar contract, with the 4th year being a player option. On June 26th of this year Jones exercised his player option on that 4th year, meaning he would remain a Pacer for the 2012-2013 season and would reel in 2.9 million for that season. So the Pacers also shed that contract, however the Pacers did have to spend some money on who they received in the deal.

Now who did Indiana get in exchange for those two players? (this is where the angry fans come in) 6'11 230 lb. big man, Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi, who averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 61 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season, recently signed a 4 year 16 million dollar contract with Dallas and will be bringing that with him to the Pacers. The 25 year old big man will be a solid back up for Indiana's all-star center Roy Hibbert, bringing his great athleticism and energy into the game. The Pacers filled a definite void with this move.

Pacers' fans had grown very fond of both Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones over the past couple seasons.
The two had become fan favorites on the court and in the community. With that being said it'd be an understatement to say that there are a lot of upset Pacers fans right now, but all I can say is be patient because the Pacers are not done making moves this off season.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Source: Pacers to Match Portland's offer to Roy Hibbert

Good news for Pacers' fans today as a source close to the situation has reported that the Pacers will match Portland's offer presented to the 7'2 center,Roy Hibbert.
Up to this point Pacers' fans have been holding their breath as the only reports on the situation have been that the Pacers were "on the fence" or "50/50" about matching Portland's 4 year 58 million dollar offer, but today we have learned that the Pacers will indeed match the offer, bringing the the all-star center back to the blue and gold.
Prior to the start of free agency it didn't seem to be a question that the Pacers would resign Hibbert. Both the coaching staff and the front office declared Hibbert as is their "top priority" this off season, but once they learned of Portland's max offer there suddenly became a question. Is he worth a max deal?
Once the fans got ahold of the Pacers front office saying that they're "50/50" on resigning the center, a sense of panic began to arise through social media. Questions like "Kaman?", "Asik??","what are the Pacers doing?!" began to ring out as the fans here in Indy clearly wanted Hibbert back in the blue and gold.
With this news the Pacers can again be put in the discussion with East's "elite". The Pacers may add another piece such as OJ Mayo,Courtney Lee,Carlos Delfino,or Lou Williams, making them that much more dangerous. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Remaining Free Agents the Pacers Are Interested In

With Brandon Roy and Eric Gordon reportedly verbally agreeing to deals elsewhere it's time to get down to the remaining free agents that the Pacers are pursuing.

First on the list is Memphis Grizzlies' guard OJ Mayo. Mayo, an unrestricted free agent, has recently put Indiana at the top of his list of possible destinations. The feeling is mutual between the Pacers and OJ as Indiana has tried to acquire the guard Via trade at each of the past two seasons' trade deadlines but couldn't get a deal done. Is the third time the charm? I'd say so as sources report the two parties are growing closer to a deal to bring Mayo to Indiana.

Next on the list is Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee. Lee, an Indianapolis native, has expressed interest in coming home to play for his hometown Pacers. As you remember the Pacers brought in another hometown kid on draft night last year by the name of George Hill and that seemed to workout pretty well for both Hill and the Pacers. Hill recently took to twitter to try 'recruiting' the Rockets guard to come home by posting this tweet, "@George_Hill3: #PacerNation Let's Try to get another hometown guy Courtney Lee home in that #Blue&Gold What y'all think". I could definitely see Lee in the Blue and Gold next season with the Pacers need for another scorer on the wing. Lee is a 6'5 200 lb. shooting guard who would not only provide another scoring threat to the team but also bring with him a terrific ability to play perimeter defense on quick guards/slashers, an area in which the Pacers need improvement in. So how close are the two parties on a deal? Talks have just begun and Lee has drawn interest from multiple teams so we'll just have to wait and see if things heat up with the young guard.

Another name that has been popping up with the Pacers is Clippers' guard Nick Young. Young flat out has a knack for scoring, from anywhere on the floor. He can shoot the three with good enough efficiency to keep his defenders honest which often times opens up a path for him to penetrate into the lane and finish or set up another teammate for an easy bucket. Young would be a great addition to the Pacers, but like Courtney Lee and OJ Mayo, he has drawn interest from other teams as well. Current Pacers' guard/forward Paul George is good friends with young so maybe he can put a good word in his ear about joining the team.

A name that has just recently surfaced with talks of the Pacers is Nets' forward Gerald Green. The Pacers have had their eye on Green since his high school days and thought about taking him in the 2005 NBA draft but Bird did not want to add that kind of youth to the roster at that time. Green's salary last season was only $150,000 so the Pacers could pick up a quality scorer at a very good price.

Now on to possible Roy Hibbert replacements, if the Pacers' don't resign the all-star center. One name that has popped up to the Pacers in previous seasons as a backup option off the bench is now being targeted as a possible starter, and that is Hornets big man Chris Kaman. Kaman may be the best available option to replace Hibbert because unlike the other available free agent centers, Kaman can use some pretty impressive post moves to finish around the rim. A lot of people forget that Kaman was an all-star for a season when he was a Clipper, but at the same time he has had his fair share of injury issues over the past couple seasons. The last thing the Pacers want to do is spend money on a guy who will miss more games than he will play in. The other big man the Pacers have reportedly been talking with is Nuggets center JaVale McGee. McGee is a tremendous defender but his lack of offensive skills and overall basketball IQ makes him a bit of a scary option when looking to replace Hibbert. McGee is also a restricted free agent so the Nuggets may not even let him go. For most, it may seem like a no-brainer for the Pacers to resign Roy Hibbert but as of right now the front office still hasn't decided on if they're going to match Portland's max offer or if they're going to let the all-star center walk. With that being said, we have to have other options lined up should Hibbert be let go.

This is the most updated list of free agents that the Pacers are in talks with and as updates come in I will keep you informed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pacers Release 2012 Rookies/Free Agents Camp Roster

     Some of the names on this year's summer league roster probably look familiar to fans of the state's major college basketball programs with three former stars of their programs on the roster this year. Those three being; Ben Hansbrough (formally Notre Dame), Chris Kramer (formally Purdue), and Robert Vaden (formally IU) before trasferring to Alabama Birmingham. Yes you guessed it, Ben Hansbrough is related to current Pacers' forward Tyler Hansbrough. Ben is Tyler's younger brother.

     The roster also contains a couple of Pacers' veterans, Lance Stephenson and Jeff Pendergraph, both trying to improve their respective games. If you followed last year's Pacers training camp you'll recognize the names of Jarrid Famous, Tyren Johnson, and Matt Rogers as they were all at camp last December. A couple D league players will be joing the Pacers for camp as well, Matt Janning and Hamady Ndiaye. Undrafted free agent Reggie Hamilton out of Oakland University will being playing summer ball with the Pacers. After not being selected in the 2012 NBA draft, Hamilton will have a chacne to prove he belongs in this league.

      Rounding out this year's summer league roster is the Pacers' two 2012 draft picks Miles Plumlee (Duke) and Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara). Plumlee, after being a controversial 1st round pick by the Pacers will be looking to prove that the Pacers indeed did make a good choice with their 26th overall pick. Johnson, the 36th overall pick in this year's draft, was orginally selected by the Sacramento Kings but was acquired by the Pacers through a draft night trade in exchange for cash.

      The Pacers will practice six times before leaving Sunday afternoon for Orlando. They begin Summer League play there Monday, July 9, against Detroit at 5:00 p.m. On Tuesday, July 10, the Pacers meet Oklahoma City at 1:00 p.m.; Wednesday, July 11, vs. Boston at 11:00 a.m.; Thursday, July 12, vs. Utah at 3:00 p.m. and Friday, July 13, vs. Brooklyn at 3:00 p.m.

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Last Played for

Jarrid Famous





Souh Florida

Petron Blaze Boosters (Phillipines)


Reggie Hamilton





Oakland University

Oakland University


Ben Hansbrough





Notre Dame

KRKA (Slovenia)


Matt Janning






Novipiu Casale (Italy)


Orlando Johnson





UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara


Tyren Johnson






Rio Grande (NBADL)


Chris Kramer






s. Oliver Baskets (Germany)


Hamady Ndiaye






Maine (NBADL)


Jeff Pendergraph





Arizona State



Miles Plumlee








Matt Rogers





Southwest Baptist



Lance Stephenson








Robert Vaden






Tulsa (NBADL)