Indiana Pacers: Intent to rebuild may ultimately be a facade to actually retool

Indiana Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon - Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon - Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers have spawned a lot of smoke recently with their reported inclination for an organizational shift to rebuilding mode, an utter rarity for a franchise that seemed content to chase wins after wins despite uncertain—or blatantly inexistent—title windows.

Well, if you ask me, the word “rebuild” simply isn’t in the Pacers’ veins. Despite a more convincing stance to actually set their sights on the future by foregoing their stale foray toward competitiveness, I’ve already seen this situation before. You cannot blame me, or other naysayers in that regard, when we doubt Indiana’s commitment to starting from ground zero.

Ultimately, given what the Blue and Gold’s precedence to banner a competitive roster no matter the personnel, their recently expressed intent to rebuild may ultimately end up being a smokescreen to actually retool.

The Indiana Pacers’ intent to rebuild may not be as emphatic as it seems

Augmenting openness to trade the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, and Caris LeVert is normally a defining sign for an adamant rebuild, but the Indiana Pacers’ remnants beyond those three players are not your typical leftovers to commence a youth movement. Malcolm Brogdon and TJ Warren, two players who have both expressed their preference to remain in the Circle City notwithstanding a shift in direction, are already dangling pieces in a supposed rebuild.

Keeping those two players, which has a good chance of happening so that the front office could eventually acquire solid returns for them, could derail the Pacers’ commitment to a rebuild. After all, rebuilding entails purposive losing for the sake of draft fortunes.

However, those are players steeped with convictions to win. Expecting them to wholeheartedly lead a deliberate losing campaign would be impractical and confute why they should be kept in the first place—loyalty is immaterial in an actual rebuild.

Also, the double-big dilemma between Turner and Sabonis, if not concluded with both of them donning new colorways, will give the Pacers a brief glance at a more modern configuration. If what transpires translates to unforeseen winning, then a retooling may be the actual end.

The reality is that small markets have a lesser margin for error not only in contending, but also in rebuilding. For that reason, ultra-boisterous tank jobs like Oklahoma City’s, for example, is far from a guaranteed gauntlet toward eventual contention. To keep players, you have to make them happy. And willfully losing is far from an attractive maneuver. Are we really sure that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is liking every bit of the Thunder’s intentional derision from winning players?

Chris Duarte, Indiana’s obvious piece to spearhead a rebuild, may not be too keen to anchor a rebuilding team as he enters his prime. So does Isaiah Jackson, if he lives up to his raw talent. There’s also the organizational backbone to ponder on. Is Rick Carlisle really congenial to a rebuild? Will Kevin Pritchard fully commit to accruing assets for the future instead of trying to work his magic on free agent and trade bargains?

There’s a lot of questions for the Indiana Pacers in the early stages of a seemingly impending rebuild. While their stance toward building from the ground up looks to be more resolute than ever, there are legitimate factors that could ultimately push them to doing what they have usually done before—retool and try to carve out wins, no matter what.

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