The Paul George injury… perhaps you heard about it?
While the effects of it won’t be fully known for some time, the 8 Points, 9 Seconds Roundtable assembles to address the injury and what it means for Paul George and the Indiana Pacers.
1. How did you first see/hear about Paul George’s injury, and what was your immediate reaction?
Jonathan Washburn: I was watching it live and unfortunately poking fun at PG’s inability to make passes on time/on target on Twitter. I yelled in pain, waking up my pregnant wife and sleeping dog in the process. The night would only get worse from there.
Jalen Bishop: I found out looking at a text message from a friend a little past midnight. My phone was dead, and I had turned off the game around halftime, so I had no idea Indiana’s franchise player suffered an awful injury. I only watched the replay of the injury once and that was enough. My immediate reaction was feeling sympathy for George and his family.
Tim Donahue: I found out when I checked Twitter late Friday evening. My immediate reaction was, “Well, that’s that.” What I saw Friday night will cost Paul George at least two years of his career — one for rehab, one just trying to get back to where he was. There have been many stories playing up George’s prospects for a great recovery, but it remains a very real possibility — if not likelihood — that his best play is behind him.
Ben Gibson: Twitter, just saw he was down, then saw the play. Because of working with this site, I immediately went in to “newsman” mode and started making sure we had things posted. However, after that was covered I looked at the injury, started to process the 6-, 12-, and 18-month timetables for a return and just started hoping the best for Paul George both as a player and person. There also may have been a lot of cursing and words my mother would not approve of.
2. Was this a freak accident or does it highlight a larger problem that now needs to be addressed?
Washburn: This was a freak accident — though the basketball stanchion undoubtedly played a major role. Still, these guys play in smaller gyms that have less than four feet of room before running into a wall. This was just an awful fluke.
If a larger problem does exist, it’s probably the low reward/high risk nature of chase down blocks. After the George and Nerlens Noel injuries, it seems like you have an 80% chance of picking up a foul, a 15% chance of making the highlight reel block, and a 5% chance of having something go terribly, horribly wrong. As a coach, I will be telling my players that two points aren’t as destructive to your team’s chances as fouls or injuries.
Donahue: By and large, the community has agreed to treat this as a freak accident. There will probably be some cosmetic move within the NBA and their sanctioned events to create more space the baseline.
Bishop: A freak accident. The stanchion was definitely a bit close to the court. This is a little more proof that basketball players need more room around the court. The unbelievable part of play was how much ground George covered in the air on a casual block attempt. There’s no doubt in my mind that if there was an extra foot of room, the injury would not have occurred.
Gibson: Freak accident, but it doesn’t hurt to look on how to make the game safer. Simple as that for me.
3. Should the Pacers stand pat now or look to make some major trades?
Washburn: It depends on three things: Is PG out for the entire year, do you really want to keep Roy Hibbert, and do you really want to gun for an 8th seed instead of a lottery pick? Personally, I would answer those questions yes, yes, and no. Therefore, I would trade away David West in hopes of getting a younger stretch four and tell Roy we want to surround him with shooters so he can thrive offensively as well as defensively. I may even dangle George Hill out there to see what his value is and hope to come back in 2015-16 with a healthy PG, a rejuvenated Hibbert, and possibly a youngster with good talent.
Donahue: There are no moves to be made that can fix this. Other than possibly David West and draft picks, they have no particularly attractive assets. The value of trading either of those is dubious. They might find a small move by trading Luis Scola and his partially guaranteed contract, but it’s not going to move the needle. They aren’t likely to be able to get into the action on a sign-and-trade for either Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe. However, the Pacers should get rid of Roy Hibbert. This has been true since the end of the season. Losing Lance and Paul is going to create a great deal of adversity, and that’s something Hibbert has been proven to be unable to handle. He has two years and over $30 million left on his contract. Pacers would do well to get off that hook.
Bishop: They should be looking to make trades but I doubt there’s a team out there that wants take any of Indiana’s players. The Pacers’ best asset is David West, but he is 33 years old and is owed $24 million over next two years. Roy Hibbert is owed $30 million over next two years. There’s other tradable pieces, like Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson, but neither of those guys will move the needle in a trade.
Gibson: Plan for the future, and don’t make a trade that only could have an effect on the 2014-15 season. It was going to be a tough road before the injury but now we are looking at a .500 team without George in the line up. If the Pacers do ship anyone, it should be done with the 2015-16 season in mind. The Pacers can still win games with the current roster, but they aren’t in the championship hunt anymore.
4. Presuming the roster doesn’t change much, how many wins will Indiana get next season?
Washburn: Depending on how many teams in the East start tanking, I think Indy will finish in the 33-38 range. It’s hard to imagine winning more than two games against Cleveland and Chicago alone, and less than 8 wins against the entire Western Conference is a real possibility. Looking at it that way, the Pacers would need to go better than .500 against the rest of the Eastern Conference just to get to 40 wins, and I don’t see that happening.
Donahue: It looks like a 30-win team to me. It’s an odd roster, filled with plenty of players, like George Hill and C.J. Watson, who can really help good teams win but are useless on bad teams. In some ways, this roster is worse than the gawdawful ones that played under Jim O’Brien. The role players are all better, but there’s no scorer — no Danny Granger-type — to give a puncher’s chance. As constructed, I doubt both their ability to score and their ability to defend.
Bishop: 34 wins. The win total could be lower than that because the East improved a bit from the middle to the top. Indiana will squander out wins against the Bucks, Sixers, Magic and Celtics. Even though the young Pistons roster is a year older and have Stan Van Gundy as head coach, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith’s incompetency gives Indiana a chance. There’s plenty of winnable games. David West could take on a larger role and do well. There’s decent role players filled throughout the roster, but I see no one who will make Indiana into a 40-win team.
Gibson: 41-41 seems reasonable, if Hibbert isn’t still an occasional lifeless corpse. Will Indiana rally behind a fallen teammate? Maybe, but 82 games was hard enough on them last year and now this? I think somewhere around there seems reasonable, and Nate Silver does too.
5. Are injuries the worst or the worstest?
Washburn: Let’s put it this way: I feel awful for all the stupid comments I made about Derrick Rose the past year and a half. I don’t care how big the rival is or how back and forth the injury situation goes — injuries are worse than the worstest.
Bishop: The worst. This is awful and I hope Paul recovers well.
Gibson: When the day is long, when your day is long, and the night, the night is yours alone … When you’re sure you’ve had enough … Of this life, well hang on.