Adrian Wojnarowski: Pacers are suspending assistant Greg Foster for one game and fining Goga Bitadze for exchange on court Wednesday, sources tell ESPN. Foster and Bitadze have had a strong working relationship this season and that’s expected to continue, but emotions are running high in Indiana.
J. Michael Falgoust: This is what led up to the Greg Foster blow up with Bitadze. He let Harkless get to the rim for a 2nd chance dunk and got scolded for not contesting. Bitadze responds w/ a 3 and when he runs back you can read his lips pretty clearly. “Sit the f$&@ down.” That did it #PacersKings pic.twitter.com/oFEmdUpPUl
Tony East: "We're in a frustrating stretch here," Bjorkgren says of the Foster-Bitadze moment. "The competitive juices are flowing. Things like that will happen."
Scott Agness: Bjorkgren arrived. He says they’re “in a frustrating stretch. Competitive juices are flowing.” He has talked individually with Goga Bitadze and assistant Greg Foster about their confrontation.
Sean Cunningham: Looked as if Greg Foster's anger was directed at Goga Bitadze, but he was partially restrained by members of the staff. Really bad look over there
Scott Agness: After watching it back several times, it’s also clear Foster’s public eruption bothered Jeremy Lamb and Domantas Sabonis too. They didn’t like it. The masks hide whatever was said. Some tough love is good, if warranted. But it’s too late.
And then things got weird. Oladipo got weird. He got arrogant. He became a superstar in his own mind. Is he surrounded by the wrong people? Talk to NBA types, they’ll tell you he’s getting very bad advice from a young agent who counts Oladipo as his only prominent basketball client. But Victor, who is 28, is his own man, a sharp and intelligent soul, and this is ultimately on him. Oladipo and his people want you to believe now that he’s all-in on making it work long-term with the Pacers.
Show teammates, who are said to have become fed up with his antics. Show management, which has bent over backward to accommodate Oladipo, only to watch him treat them like dirt. Show the city, which embraced him with such vigor and now wonders how it’s supposed to feel about the once-prodigal son.
Scott Agness: Al Jefferson: "We got to figure it out, man. We can’t blame the coaches, we can blame the GM, we can’t blame the fans, we can’t blame nobody. We the ones out there. “There’s just no effort at all. And that’s something you got to have."
Less than 48 hours after the Indiana Pacers star challenged two more players in a postgame news conference, George fired back at the notion that he was not supportive of his team. "It's complete ignorance, to be honest," he said. "Everybody knows how close I am with my teammates and I said that only to motivate my teammates to win this series and win a championship. I didn't say anything even close to throwing them under the bus. If I didn't say nothing, it would have been another story."
The Pacers entered Tuesday in a three-way tie with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks for fifth place in the East. Both teams moved ahead of the Pacers, the Bucks defeating the Charlotte Hornets and the Hawks knocking off Phoenix. The eighth-place Miami Heat, who own the tiebreaker over Indiana, also beat the Detroit Pistons to move one game behind the Pacers. “We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up.”
“It’s tough losing a game here that we need knowing that we don’t play well on the road,” George said. “When we lose focus here, I’m not sure where our head is going to be as a team tomorrow. I’ll make sure to gather these guys around and let them understand, man, that we’ve got to win. That’s the only thing that’s important. The only thing that should be motivational is winning.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride. This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “To be honest, man, I don’t think I got the ball enough down the stretch. I don’t think I got the ball enough.”
Sirius XM NBA: "I don't listen to reports. He is our leader and we don't sense the frustration." -@Aaron Brooks on media reports on @Paul George's frustration
A. Sherrod Blakely: Paul George says the @Indiana Pacers are a "playoff team" at home and a "lottery team" on the road this season. #Celticstalk pic.twitter.com/fukNuR3bwl
Team president Larry Bird spent much of the day weighing the option of trading George to the Boston Celtics, a team that possesses several rotational players and valuable draft picks, including the lowly Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks in the next two drafts. Ultimately, Bird decided not to deal George with the hope the franchise can convince him to re-sign after his expected opt-out at the end of the 2017-18 season.
George, though, said he was not pleased that Bird considered trading him after previously vowing to sign George to a max contract. “I was kind of on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen,” George said of his emotions before the deadline. “It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty and that was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I would have been in the loop a little more on that.”
Paul George: "I kind of was on the ropes, just like you guys were, on what was about to happen;' George told reporters in Indianapolis. "It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I would have been in the loop a little more on (trade talks)."
Not too long ago the Pacers were the main threat in the Eastern Conference to LeBron James' Miami Heat, and Paul George was leading the way. But the roster that found success a few years ago is no more, and the team is on the fringe of the playoff picture instead of at the forefront. That kind of fall from grace can get to you, and George admitted Thursday it has. "[This season] hasn't been [fun]. We're trying to work through it," George told reporters. "It's been one of the most frustrating seasons I've been a part of."
"Maybe I'm just living in the past of how good we used to be, the personnel, the guys I had around," George said. "I'm still living in that moment, maybe. I gotta put myself into a different team and maybe I have to do more, maybe that's just what it is, maybe I have to do more now. But whatever is, I'm going to figure it out."
June 21, 2021 | 7:41 pm EDT Update
Mirjam Swanson: Luke Kennard on Marcus’ role defensively: “He’s a physical defender, and that’s what we need, especially this late in the playoffs. Hopefully he’s good to go and we’ll see what he can do. But we definitely need him out there.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ivica Zubac says Kawhi Leonard has been very involved with helping the team with what he sees from talking to the team in the locker room in Game 6 vs Utah to being active in the players’ group text chat. Zubac says Kawhi is all about the details when giving players what he sees.
The Hawks also have a link to Milwaukee sports history that perhaps only longtime Milwaukeeans might know. The Hawks used to call UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena their home court. They were the Milwaukee Hawks 70 years ago. “The Hawks came here in 1951, they transferred from Tri-Cities, Moline, Rock Island and Davenport where they were known as the Blackhawks,” Milwaukee sports historian Dennis Sell said.
The final year, the Hawks had a Rookie of the Year NBA legend — Bob Pettit, but left for St. Louis where they won a championship a few years later. “There were a number of reasons why the Hawks didn’t make it here,” Sell said. “The most obvious being the NBA wasn’t anywhere near the league is today. The Hawks also finished in last place all four years they were here.” News clippings from the time show the attendance usually hovered at around 1,000 fans, no match for the other pro team in town. Tickets sold for $1.
June 21, 2021 | 5:57 pm EDT Update
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue said Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 2. He added Marcus Morris Sr. “is still experiencing soreness” and “getting treatment around the clock.” His status unclear for Game 2