Yesterday’s failed Indiana-Memphis-New Orleans love triangle caused some hysterics amongst Pacers fans. I got the sense that many think O.J. Mayo is a knucklehead who is not worth the price of Josh McRoberts, Brandon Rush and a first round pick. That may be true, but Mayo represented a huge talent influx for the Pacers. There is no doubt that Larry Bird would have looked good in the eyes of NBA experts had this gone through.
Now, the Pacers have egg on their faces. So do the Grizzlies. Who is to blame? I’d say the Hornets.
A day after Mark Cuban blasted the NBA-owned Hornets for paying out big cash in a trade for Carl Landry, the team from the Bayou screwed up the best-laid plans of the Pacers and Grizzlies. I can think of at least three owners who are going to push the league to either sell the Hornets to a buyer in New Orleans as soon as possible or get on with relocating the team to a city where new ownership can be found. (UPDATE: Phil Jackson is publicly expressing a similar sentiment to that of Cuban, dropping this classic Zen saying: “If New Orleans happens to win the championship, does everybody get a trophy in the NBA?” h/t Pacers Digest)
When the league took over the Hornets it also took on the responsibility to run the franchise in a professional manner until a buyer comes along. It is not doing so right now. The NBA is simply incapable of running a team the way a normal owner/general manager duo would. If you are a conspiracy theorist, the NBA just gave you one more reason to think the league has it out for the Pacers or any other small market team. I don’t believe this to be true, but I do fault the NBA for being incompetent in its quest to keep a team in New Orleans.
The more important question for the Pacers becomes, what about the rest of the season for Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush? After this attempted trade, neither player is likely vital to the long-term plans of the Pacers, but both are important for the rest of this season.
Given the questions about the Pacers’ collective fragile psyche throughout the season, you have to wonder how McRoberts and Rush will react to yesterday’s soap opera. It would be easy to say, “suck it up, ignore it, and be a professional.”
That conveniently ignores the fact that these guys are human.
McRoberts now knows for sure that Tyler Hansbrough is presently in the long-term plans of the Pacers and that he is likely not. McRoberts has played his role very well in the past dozen games, and now this happens. How does the starting power forward react?
Rush, one day removed from a game-winning dunk against Detroit, knows for sure that Paul George is really the shooting guard of the future. Rush was only put into the starting lineup when Mike Dunleavy went down to preserve the second unit dynamic that has worked so well under coach Frank Vogel. Given Rush’s struggles to be consistent, how does he respond to the knowledge that the Pacers tried to trade him away?
It will be interesting to see if McRoberts and Rush can be consistent, solid contributors on the heels of the aborted trade.