The No. 23 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft does not appear to offer much in the way of help, at least not of the immediate kind.
Take those two factors, mix in a General Manager (Kevin Pritchard) with a history of big draft-related deals and a team on the verge of championship contention and could very well add up to the fourth draft-related trade in four years for the Pacers.
“They’re being active,” said Chad Ford, the lead NBA Draft analyst for ESPN. “They’ve looked at 23 and I think their general feeling is unless someone slips in the draft the guys they’re looking at are unlikely to even be rotation players for a team that’s going to contend for an NBA championship next season.
“And so when you look at 23, could this guy get on the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals? You have to start asking questions like that and the answer is no, which means they’re going to have to go and address their bench with trades and free agency. They’re not going to be able to address that with the draft, which means if they can trade it, I think they could trade it.”
One trade report already has surfaced, with ESPN.com suggesting the Pacers and Kings in talks involving the No. 23 pick in return for young guard Jimmer Fredette. Gerald Green could also be involved in the deal, as a separate ESPN.com report suggested the Pacers want to shed his contract on conjunction with any deal for their first-round pick.
Fredette was the No. 10 pick in the 2011 draft but production has not met expectations. He has been solid, averaging 7.4 points and making 40 percent of his 3-pointers, in two seasons, but not the prolific scorer the Kings may have anticipated. His career track compares favorably to that of another undersized scoring guard who has burst upon the scene as a highly-sought free agent this year – J.J. Redick.
Pritchard would not address the Fredette report specifically, but it’s clear the man who helped engineer seven draft-night trades in Portland from 2006-08 has been busy.
“We always look at everything,” he said. “It’s been my history to move and be active. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t. We like 23 and we think we’ll get a good player, somebody that can get in our rotation.”
The one wild card in the equation is team president Donnie Walsh, who will be the final authority on any deals. He has historically been much more cautious on draft night.
If no deal is forthcoming?
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all for them to take one of these ‘upside’ guys whether it’s an international player that they can stash overseas or maybe a guy like an Archie Goodwin (of Kentucky) or a Ricky Ledo (Providence),” Ford said, “someone you can just say, ‘Look, we don’t expect anything out of this guy, we’ll work with him in the D-League, we’ll try to get him better as a player and we’ll come back and re-visit this in a couple of years.’
“I don’t think they’ll make the mistake they made last year when they drafted Miles Plumlee, thinking ‘Man, he’s 23, 24, he has an NBA body, he can come in and do something for us right away’ and then the realization starts to come in that he’s just not good enough. You can’t put him on the floor right away. I typically think it’s a mistake that teams tend to make later in the first round because they know they don’t need a star, they just want to fit in a niche guy but the niche guy isn’t good enough at the niche to really make it at the next level. I just think they’ll go a different direction in the draft this year because of that.”
>> VOGEL WANTS TO MOVE QUICKLY TO REPLACE SHAW
It should take Frank Vogel a lot less time to replace Brian Shaw than it did for the former Pacers aide to land his long-sought head-coaching opportunity.
After interviewing for most every opening in the NBA the past two years, Shaw finally was hired by the Nuggets Tuesday.
“I’m ecstatic for him,” Vogel said. “I’ve sort of felt the disappointment he’s felt the last couple of situations where he didn’t get jobs so it’s been hard on him but hard for me to see him go through that and there’s no one more deserving.
“It’s exciting to see someone get it right and I think he’s going to do a phenomenal job for Denver. He’s going to be one of the best coaches this league’s going to see for the next few years and probably for many, many years.”
Vogel already has met with former Sonics and Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan about the opening. McMillan, like Shaw, was interviewed by the Nuggets, Clippers and Pistons and has extensive experience both as a player and coach.
“We’re going to look at a lot of different types of assistant coaches but I think it’s important to have a former player or two on your bench to share some of the experiences that our guys are going through,” Vogel said, adding he’d like to move “as quickly as possible but making sure we do our due diligence, to research on the right people to bring in here.”