The Indiana Pacers Are Blowing the 2018 Offseason

I trust Kevin Pritchard. Anyone who can boldly go into a trade negotiation, fleece the Oklahoma City Thunder for two guys who have turned into two of the best young players in the league at their respective roles, and not be laughed out of the room when he says it went according to expectation is a guy not to be questioned lightly.

That said…

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FLIPPING MIND?! AARON FREAKING GORDON FOR $20 MILLION?!?!

Put another way, I’m not on board with the Aaron Gordon offer sheet rumors.

Gordon was great in the 2016 dunk contest. But you know who else was great in the dunk contest?

Harold Miner. Jeremy Evans. Kenny Walker. And even Zach LaVine, even though Gordon got robbed.

The ability to spectacularly dunk a basketball in a televised exhibition does not automatically mean you’re Michael Jordan or Julius Erving in an actual game.

I’m not sold on a guy who takes 40 percent of his shots from three-point range and only hits 33.6 percent of them.

I’m not sold on a guy who shoots 71.8 percent at the rim but posted a career-low 27.5 percent of his attempts from there.

And I am damn sure not sold on a guy who’s supposed to be a wing player but can’t shoot. You know what happened the last time the Pacers had guys like that? Rodney Stuckey and Monta Ellis happened and Paul George had to shoot a contested jumper with two seconds left on the shot clock because he had nobody to get the ball to.

Considering Gordon’s set to make more money for the same skill set as the likely-departing Thaddeus Young, this is a monstrously stupid move for the Pacers to even consider.

Go after Julius Randle. Chase Jerami Grant. Give some run to guys like T.J. Leaf.

But for the love of the Basketball Gods, do not waste cap space on Aaron Freaking Gordon unless you want to see a monumental disappointment unfold on those moments when Gordon can even stay on the floor—the poop icing on this crap cake is Gordon’s inability to avoid injury.

The Elephant in the Room

Oh, and I wanted to address Lance Stephenson while I’ve got everyone’s attention.

The analytics guy in me is glad to be rid of a guy who shot 28.9 percent from three on the season, posted negative Offensive Win Shares, started seven games and was a big part of the reason the Pacers didn’t win a single game without Victor Oladipo, and is, on paper, one of the worst shooting guards in the league.

But the fan in me sees the intangibles. The infectious energy. The inspiration Lance was to his teammates out there on the second unit as they tried to hold leads for the starters. The folk hero he was at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

And even though this publication is an avowed proponent of stats first, the “ball don’t lie” certainty that the numbers provide…

Gods damn it, Lance made Pacers basketball fun again after two of the most depressing years I’ve suffered through as a fan of this team since I started rooting for them in the mid-90s.

Funny story about that; I’m a Pacers fan because the Celtics were so bad for so long after Larry Bird retired that I needed a team to root for during the playoffs. I chose the Supersonics in the West and the Pacers in the East so I’d have a dog in both fights without looking too much like a frontrunner (stop looking at me like that, I was 15 when Bird played his last game at the Olympics).

The Sonics love dissipated when Shawn Kemp went to Cleveland; the Pacers love intensified thanks to Reggie Miller and even survived the Malice at the Palace.

And by the time the Celtics were good again, I’d been a Pacers fan for so long that I found myself rooting for Indiana when the teams played in the regular season.

So now you know.

Anyway, next week, I promise Summer Reading will be about something else besides the Pacers. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!