Thaddeus Young doesn’t remember the date from his freshman year, his only year, at Georgia Tech. He remembers the occasion, though. He and his classmates were involved in a basketball practice. There were four recruited first-year Yellow Jackets in 2007-08. Coach Paul Hewitt observed their various petty crimes against the game of basketball and called them all together for a discussion. Or, more accurately, a harangue. “He told us, ‘All of your high school coaches should be in jail for child abuse, because they didn’t teach you anything,’” Young told Sporting News. “There was a lot of learning that first couple weeks when I got there.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic was 10 years old and living in Belgrade, Serbia, and life was coming at him fast. He was torn between committing to soccer, the sport he refers to as “the real football,” or basketball, the beautiful game that led Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic across oceans, around the world, ultimately into the arms of the increasingly global NBA. Sixteen years later, the Kings rookie known as “Bogi” remembers where he was, what he was doing, what he was thinking, when lightning struck. “I was watching the final game of the World Championships in Indianapolis (in 2002),” Bogdanovic recalled, “and when we won that gold medal with Vlade and Peja, I said, ‘I decide. Let’s go basketball.’ That was an amazing moment for my country.”
Front-office executives around the league expect that the Pacers will be a player on the restricted free-agent market this summer, where some talented players could be the victims of a league-wide financial squeeze. That would allow Indiana to bring in talent at a reduced cost. Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart are bigger names expected to draw interest from the Pacers, and there could be bargains with the likes of Yogi Ferrell, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick McCaw.
The Pacers were active at the trade deadline, seeking to leverage their cap room as part of three-way trades, willing to take on a bad salary in exchange for draft picks. Nothing panned out, but they will continue to explore using their cap room in trades at the draft and during this summer. If that does not pan out, the Pacers will be in position to compete for free agents to bolster Oladipo in 2019. The hope is that young players like Sabonis, Myles Turner (who has had a disappointing year) and T.J. Leaf develop quickly and give the team the makings of a promising young roster around Oladipo. That would enable the Pacers to sell themselves — and their cap space — two summers from now.