Pacers look forward to next year after promising season
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After a disappointing game seven loss, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard and head coach Nate McMillan began the process of looking back at this season, while planning for the next.
The Pacers shocked the NBA by winning 48 games in the regular season and finishing with the fifth best record in the east after a roster overhaul. Indiana then gave the best player in the world, LeBron James, and the Cavaliers all they could handle in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
“We didn’t have any goals to win,” Pritchard said. “That wasn’t our mantra. It was really to set a culture of development, get better and establish what we want from the players.”
“I think we’re in a really good situation,” said McMillan. “We’ve seen what our potential has to offer and how we can go into the summer and build upon that.”
A big part of that potential is star Victor Oladipo. The Indiana product became the new face of the franchise, leading the team in scoring with 23.1 points per game and becoming an all-star for the first time.
Pritchard wanted to challenge Oladipo to continue his growth as the team enters the offseason, so he and general manager Chad Buchanan cued up 80’s pop duo Milli Vanilli’s song “Girl You Know It’s True” as he walked in for his exit interview. The guard asked what song they were playing.
“I said, ‘that’s probably the biggest one hit wonder that’s ever happened,'” Pritchard recalled. “The question is are you just a one hit wonder. Is this just a one-year deal? His response was ‘nope, I’m more Michael Jackson’ and I was like, ‘boy, we have something special here.'”
Oladipo wasted no time preparing for next season. He was at the team’s training facility early Monday morning after Sunday’s loss to Cleveland putting up 200 shots and working out in the weight room.
“If every player on our team knows we have a great human being, who’s our greatest worker, but also our greatest player, you better fall in line or you don’t look right,” Pritchard said.
The decision-making this offseason starts with forward Thaddeus Young and guard Cory Joseph, who both have player options for next season. Pritchard said they’d like to have both back next year.