Five takeaways from Kevin Pritchard’s press conference

On Friday after the NBA trade deadline, Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard spoke to the media to discuss the actions taken by the front office during the week.

This year we clearly saw something out of the ordinary, but with the losses piling up, it was clear that change was not only needed, but every Pacers fan knew it was coming.

Since taking over as president of the Indiana Pacers, we’ve rarely seen Kevin Pritchard make any mid-season moves. That wasn’t the case this season, as Indiana knocked down their entire roster.

The massive trade to acquire playmaker Tyrese Haliburton was as stunning as we’ve seen from Kevin Pritchard.

It’s not easy to trade your team’s best player and a two-time star player, but when trying to acquire a special player like Haliburton, you have to make tough decisions.

Kevin Pritchard spoke with the media for about 30 minutes, and I found these comments to be the five most notable to discuss.

Pritchard: “How we wanted to attack this trade deadline, let’s be super aggressive. It’s a little different from what we’ve done in the past. But I felt like this year, with the direction the team was going, the trades pulled us in a good direction.

First of all, I like this comment from Kevin Pritchard. The team was aggressive in their moves and eventually found a promising young guard in Tyrese Haliburton. If that’s Pritchard’s mindset at Deadline, what will his mindset be heading into the offseason?

With plenty of choices, cap space, and business exceptions at his disposal, I anticipate Kevin Pritchard and the front office will have the “super aggressive” mindset.

Rick Carlisle was brought here to win now, and now that they have a young point guard in Haliburton to build around, they can be more aggressive in finding the right pieces to place around him.

Pritchard: “Having a playmaker who is young with advantages and you feel you can build around for the next 10 years…those don’t come very often. I feel like we have a foundational piece and a tremendous piece to move forward.

Have you heard this Malcolm Brogdon? Kevin Pritchard thinks Tyrese is the leader for the next decade. Brogdon has been adamant that he’s a playmaker. Well, it’s Haliburton’s team now and Brogdon is going to have to adapt as an off-ball goaltender.

Rick Carlisle has previously said he likes the possibility of having multiple playmakers on the pitch together. Brogdon and Haliburton agree on paper, but Brogdon will have to accept a different role than the one he was brought to Indiana for.

Haliburton is set to turn 22 this season and Brogdon is already 29. If the Pacers are building around Haliburton, is Brogdon really a fit? Probably not.

Pritchard’s bold statement here clearly identifies the face of the franchise going forward. It’s Tyrese Haliburton. With clarity on who the face of the franchise is, I’m curious to see how the rest of the roster reacts.

With Sabonis here as the face of the franchise, it was stated by Pritchard in The Athletic that the Pacers don’t have a star. It was a format built by the committee, but it looks very different.

Pritchard said the league tends to favor guards and they targeted Haliburton and they wanted him. With such an endorsement, there’s no doubt it’s Tyrese Haliburton’s team moving forward.

Kevin Pritchard on the upcoming NBA draft being one of the most important in franchise history: “Without a doubt. I don’t know where we’ll choose, but maybe we now have the capital project to get what we want.

With another first-round pick from Cleveland (lottery-protected), second-round pick from Houston and second-round pick from Phoenix, the Pacers have what it takes to advance in the draft. The Indiana Pacers also hold all of their future first-round draft picks going forward. If there’s a player they like at the top of the draft, they could trade multiple picks to get where they want in the draft.

This draft class is considered a much lower class than the 2023 draft class, but there are still special players at the top. If there’s a desperate team that wants to trade for the Indiana Pacers’ first-round pick, I wouldn’t be shocked if they traded their pick for a player to partner with Haliburton.

There are a lot of avenues the Pacers can take with this pick, so I think it would be best to leave all options open. Since the arrival of Rick Carlisle, I think all the fans would say that they are happy with the decisions made by this team.

The collection of Pritchard, Buchanan, Carlisle, Krauskopf and Wu showed that they want to grow this team from a disappointing bottom dweller to a playoff contender. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the front office has taken drastic measures to restore the franchise’s future.

Pritchard: “I think we’re going to be opportunistic and when we see something we usually jump up and go all-in. That’s how I think we’re going to make big changes to help this team.”

I can’t think of a single fan who expected the Indiana Pacers to make such a big move to come out and trade for Tyrese Haliburton. The front office saw a guy they wanted and they jumped up and went all out. This quote could be Kevin Pritchard foreshadowing what he plans to do this upcoming offseason.

Pritchard must be happy with what he and his team achieved during trade deadline week and how they were able to negotiate with opposing teams until they got the deals they wanted.

The redesign of this list has only gone beyond the first phase. This phase was the most important because you have your guy to build around, but finding the right pieces to build around Haliburton will be the hardest part.

There are already a few players on this squad that you would call building blocks around Haliburton, but there are still holes to fill, and that could come from the draft, the trade market or through free agency.

With respect to Haliburton across the league, you have to wonder if having a guard like that on your roster might impact other players’ desire to be in Indiana to play with. him.

Pritchard: “The truth is, if everyone was healthy, we don’t know what this team could have been. You can’t keep saying that if we’re healthy we’re going to be a really good team. There’s a moment when you say enough is enough and you go in a different direction.

I never thought we’d hear Kevin Pritchard comment on the “so wholesome” narrative. This previous team was built on a start of five players who all missed a lot of time with injuries.

TJ Warren has only played in 4 of the last 130 games. Malcolm Brogdon has played 138 out of a possible 203 games since arriving in Indiana. Myles Turner has missed 52 games since 2019-20 and suffered three foot injuries (sprained ankle in 2019-20, partial toe tear in 2020-21 and stress reaction foot in 2021-22).

Warren has expressed his desire to be at Indiana, but with the number of games he’s missed, one has to wonder if Indiana has any desire to bring him back. The only benefit Indiana might get from bringing Warren back is if he takes a cheaper contract for fewer years to prove he can stay healthy.

Brogdon, the team leader and playmaker may have already lost both of their responsibilities with the addition of Haliburton. If you factor in the injury history Brogdon has had since joining the Pacers in 2019, the writing may already be on the wall here for his future with the team. When healthy, Brogdon has been one of the best players for the Indiana Pacers, but the best ability is availability.

Turner is still out with a stress reaction and that’s partly why he wasn’t moved up this NBA trade deadline. Carlisle praised Turner’s defensive rim protection and the team have been considerably worse defensively with Turner sidelined, but it’s been three years in a row now that Turner has suffered from some type of injury at the foot.

With Brogdon extended before the start of the season with roughly the same amount of money per year for two more years, I can see teams being incentivized to inquire about him.

Warren will be a free agent so the ball is in his court with what he decides to do. If there is a team that is ready to offer him a long-term contract with guaranteed money, he should accept that deal.

Suffering multiple foot injuries in Phoenix before Indiana acquired him was part of the reason the Indiana Pacers were able to acquire him for cash considerations. Bubble Warren was a fantastic experience, but he’s only played four games since then.

Turner finally has the opportunity to show why he should be the center of the present and the future. He turns 26 in March and still has his best years ahead of him. However, the injuries he suffered are worrying.

When Turner entered the draft, the reason teams were initially scared was because of his odd running form. There were serious concerns about his long-term health, but the Indiana Pacers took a chance on him. The truth is that Turner has been healthier than otherwise.

Injuries are definitely part of the game, but when it’s the same players who get hurt all the time, you can’t rely on them to be there for your team for most of the season. The front office really needs to weigh their options going forward to determine which injury-prone players are worth investing in.

Final Thoughts

I like the direction this team is taking. Tyrese Haliburton in just two games has shown so much potential you’d be a fool not to be excited.

Flexibility is the name of the game, and the Indiana Pacers are loaded into this area with: cap space, expiring contracts you can use to make signings and trades, trade exceptions, and a plethora of draft picks. This team is well placed to improve.

Kevin Pritchard gave us a lot of great quotes during that press conference that shone a light on the hope and potential for the Indiana Pacers’ future. The front office has redeemed itself from some bad mistakes made over the past few seasons with the moves they’ve made since the 2021 NBA Draft.

The momentum of the big moves being made cannot stop now. All signs point to Haliburton wanting to be in Indiana and bring this team back to its glory days.

Unlike the last three All-Stars who feared not re-signing when their contracts expired, let’s hope Haliburton is here to stay. Kevin Pritchard and company need to build a solid team to complement the abilities of their future star, Tyrese Haliburton.

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