basketball

Pacers’ Buchanan Talks Turner, Rebuild, Haliburton, Smith

Appearing on the Kevin & Query show on 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said Myles Turner will be on the team’s roster when the regular season tips off, indicating that he doesn’t expect the veteran center to be on the move before opening night.

Buchanan tacitly acknowledged that the Pacers have had trade discussions about Turner since last season ended, telling the hosts that the front office is “always going to have to listen if teams call.” However, he said the 26-year-old “handled everything like a pro.”

“Myles knows this is part of the business.” Buchanan said. “We’ve communicated with him all summer on what was going on. We do that with our players, we’ve very transparent with them. He understood that part of it. Maybe he didn’t always like it, but he understood it.”

Because he’s entering a contract year and the Pacers have embarked on a rebuild, Turner has been widely viewed as a logical trade candidate. Still, Buchanan pointed out that the shot-blocking center – who is also extension-eligible – is a nice fit on the current roster, especially now that Domantas Sabonis is no longer in the picture and the team has added play-making guards like Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin.

“It’s always going to be our job to listen if it helps improve the team, but Myles (fits) with this team, with a young group of guys – especially a young group of guards – that need some defensive protection behind them, that need some experience with them in the locker room,” Buchanan said. “His shooting, it really fits with a lot of our young guards, and so from a basketball standpoint, he’s an outstanding fit on the court for us.

“… Domas is no longer with us, (Turner has) got the starting center position, he’s playing with a great young guard in Tyrese, with a coach that believes in him, so he’s set up to have an opportunity to have a great season and that puts him in a great spot next summer (in free agency). We’ve got to weigh those conversations with Myles throughout the year, with his agent throughout the year, and evaluate how he fits with our young guards, because we haven’t seen him with Tyrese. We think it’s going to fit well, but we want to see what it looks like before we make some of those calls. I’m sure Myles wants to do the same thing on his end, it’s just part of the business.”

Here are a few more of Buchanan’s most noteworthy comments from his radio appearance:

On when the Pacers – long opposed to tanking – made the decision to rebuild:

“I think we felt that moment coming as the (2021/22) season started and we had injuries, and we just couldn’t gain any momentum. … For me personally, the game on New Year’s Eve when DeMar DeRozan throws in a running one-foot three-pointer, that felt like a dagger to me, just (for) that group and our season. It was time for a new path. The Pacers have always prided themselves on being competitive, being a playoff-caliber team. It was time for us to try something new. That group had reached its ceiling with its health, with its on-court play and success.”

On whether the Pacers will be stressing their place in the standings this season:

“I don’t think focusing on the wins and losses is appropriate with a young team. We want to see growth from start to finish. You’re going to have peaks and valleys. We’ve talked a lot about having calm waters around our team and not reacting to the highs or the lows too much. … We want to see growth from October to January to March to the end of the offseason, we want to see a trajectory of positive momentum. With a young team, that’s what you want.”

On whether the Suns – who built around lottery picks Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Aytonand Cameron Johnson – are a good blueprint for the Pacers to follow:

“I think you’re spot on. Phoenix is ​​a good example. I think Memphis and Cleveland are the other two examples that we look at. They have a couple high draft picks that they’ve hit on (and) they’ve drafted well late in the first round.”

On Haliburton entering his first full season in Indiana:

“I think Tirese is ready to take the next step in his play. He’s more comfortable in his surroundings, he’s more comfortable with his teammates. I think we’re going to see a big jump from Tyrese this year, which I’m excited to see.”

On the Pacers’ expectations for Jalen Smith after he re-signed with the team:

“Jalen had a phenomenal summer. He was back in Baltimore training, and came back about two weeks ago and just floored everybody in the gym with some of the things he’s doing now. We’re super excited about how his game is expanding. … Him next to Myles brings us two shot blockers, two guys that can really stretch the floor and make shots, which helps our guards.

“Jalen, I think you’ll see, has added more dimensions to his game offensively, where he’s putting the ball on the floor a little bit, creating his own shot a little more. The challenge will be Jalen defending on the perimeter. That’ll be the thing that he’s really got to continue to develop on, and that’s what he worked all summer on. That’s a big thing we talked to him about when we signed him. As a power forward, your responsibilities are different than a center.”

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