30 teams in 30 days: Tough times on horizon for Pacers


30 teams in 30 days: Tough times on horizon for Pacers

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Indiana Pacers.

With Paul George, the Indiana Pacers were a middle-of-the road club last season that squeaked into the playoffs only to be swept out of the first round by Cleveland.

Now that he’s no longer a Pacer, tougher times loom on the horizon for Indiana as the Pacers begin their rebuilding process.

George was shipped out to Oklahoma City earlier this summer after requesting a trade, in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis.

The Pacers made a number of moves to add more talent and depth to their roster, but their changes don’t quite measure up on paper at least, to some of the upgrades made by a number of other teams in the East heading into this season.

Filling the void left by George is not easy, especially when you consider they had no choice but to trade him.

“Paul was not staying beyond this year,” said Kevin Pritchard, Indiana’s president of basketball operations. “There was no chance … at the end of the day, he really wanted to be with another team.”

With George gone, the Pacers will now build around third-year pro Myles Turner who showed flashes of being a reliable, go-to guy for Indiana in the near future. Adding Oladipo should help fill some of the scoring void left by George’s departure, while Sabonis’ inside-outside versatility should also be a benefit to the Pacers who are hoping to extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to three straight, and seven in eight seasons.

Turner, who averaged 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season while connecting on 51.1 percent of his shots and 34.8 percent from 3-point range, will have to step his play up to a near All-Star level in order for the Pacers to defy most expectations which have them failing to make the playoffs.

“I think it’s very possible this year,” Turner said on the Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine show on Sirius radio. “I think we can … get in this year, getting off to a hot start and maintain it throughout the year.”

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Victor Oladipo (Oklahoma City); Domantis Sabonis (Oklahoma City); Darren Collison (Sacramento); Cory Joseph (Toronto); Bogdan Bogdanovic (Washington).

Key losses: Paul George (Oklahoma City).

Rookies of note: T.J. Leaf.

Expectations: 38-44 (Fourth in the Central Division, 13th in the East)

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press