Kevin Pritchard Rumors

MM: With Myles, he’s obviously worked hard this summer in Texas, based on the photographs he’s put up on social media. What have you heard about his summer and what are you expecting from him? Kevin Pritchard: “I think he and Domas both had a great summer in terms of changing their bodies. Domas went down to Dallas. They’ve created a unique bond. I love that. That’s super-important for us. I’ll say this. You look at Victor’s body of work … he changed his body, but the way he changed was he changed his mind. He made a decision mentally that I’m going to be the best worker, I’m going to be the first in the gym, the last in the gym, I’m going to do everything I can obsessively to have a great year.”
Storyline: Pacers Front Office
Kevin Pritchard: “Myles has done the first step. He’s changed his body. I have every reason to believe he’ll change his mind, that he will be the physical player we need him to be. We need him to score some, but we need him to be the defensive anchor to totally disrupt the game on that side of the ball. He really can block shots. He can be the intimidator inside with his length and his athletic ability at the rim. I still think that’s one of the most valuable tools in this league. I remember some of the elite guys in this league … Patrick (Ewing) and (Hakeem) Olajuwon and (Dikembe) Mutombo … they changed the game. You didn’t go in (the lane). I want him to have that mentality, that I’m going to be elite on that side of the ball. If he does that, everything will take care of itself.”
Kevin Pritchard: “Me, too. I don’t want to see us win 50 games and not be more prepared for the playoffs. I was very lucky. I was coached by some very good coaches … Larry Brown, Coach (Roy) Williams, Gregg Popovich … some of the great coaches. Sometimes they sacrificed some stuff in the middle of the season to make sure there was an opportunity to be right at the end of the season, which is what we’re all about. Getting to the playoffs. That’s our goal. We want to get to the playoffs, because you have to get to the playoffs to get to the second round. There are so many variables. Health. Are you clicking at the right time? It’s crazy, you look at teams that are clicking at the right time and it’s amazing basketball. Everybody is shooting the ball well, they feel good about themselves, they feel fresh at the end of the year. My goal is to get to the playoffs and be prepared to succeed in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean winning 50 games, it means getting to the playoffs.”
MM: Speaking of Victor Oladipo, what’s the expectation for him? How much better can he be? Kevin Pritchard: “We challenged him. Victor’s not the kind of kid that when I talk to him wants to hear how great he is. He’s got an internal compass that’s a strong confidence in himself and his abilities. I never worry about that. I don’t worry about his work ethic. I don’t worry about him as a great teammate. Of any player I’ve ever had, whatever his ceiling is, he’s going to get to it. He’s obsessed with becoming a great basketball player. He’s had a helluva off-season. He’ll go through some ups and downs like every player does in this league, but I have faith he’ll bounce back quick. I just think he’ll take the baton of leadership. My challenge to him is this. I played with Larry Bird. He was the best player I had ever played with. Him and Danny Manning in college (at Kansas). And those two had one specific thing that they did that was incredible, and that’s when they stepped on the court the other four players thought they were better. When I played with Larry I was just a little bit better. When I played with Danny, I was just a little bit better. That will be his next growth. He steps on the court and the other four guys go, “I’ve got this guy in my trench? We’re going to be OK tonight.” I don’t want to put it all on him, but good players do for themselves and great players do for others. He’s got the opportunity to do that.”
Storyline: Pacers Front Office
MM: Given that, how hard was it to make any changes at all? You could have brought back the same team and probably been justified in doing that because you had such a good thing going. Kevin Pritchard: “It’s always a balance, right? With Lance (Stephenson), we had a lot of conversations with his agent and with him during that time. There was a chance we were going to bring him back, but I think he got that call from LeBron or LeBron’s agent. That was a powerful thing, and we don’t blame him. It was misconstrued a little bit how I feel about Lance. Lance meant a lot to this organization. I kind of looked at it like this will be his home. Larry Bird drafted him, we spent a lot of time developing him, he left and then he came back … and with Lance, one of the great things is when you get to the playoffs, you need a little X-factor. And Lance was that X-factor. “
Kevin Pritchard: “We feel like Tyreke can do a lot of that. He’s a heck of a shooter now. He’s changed his game. You can’t go under the pick and roll with Tyreke now. You have to go over because he’s one of the elite pull-up dribble three shooters off the pick and roll now. That’s a skill that’s really important now. If he goes over the top and it’s Domas (Sabonis) that’s playing with him, that creates a lot of angles and puts the defense in tough positions. It’s always a challenge. You’re always looking to upgrade but you’re looking for continuity. We said all along, we wanted to bring back our top seven. But we didn’t have control over two of them – Thad (Young) and Cory (Joseph). Once we knew they were going to opt-in, we could be sort of calm and we didn’t have to find that starting four or that backup point guard. I like our balance of youth and experience. But you’re always fighting that as well. You look for guys in their prime and still playing well and not on the decline, but you fill them up with guys who are coming. That’s a challenge as well.”
MM: You mentioned McDermott earlier. He’s the one new guy people seem to be questioning. You gave him a good contract, you committed to him. People say he’s a poor defender, that he’s just a 3-point shooter. What do you see in him that perhaps other people do not? Kevin Pritchard: “It’s interesting because any time you look at a player … when we did the trade of Paul (George) for Victor and Sabonis, the level of their production value wasn’t equal. Paul was (better). But sometimes you say, “Can we help him maximize what his talent level is?” That’s what we did with Victor and I think we’re doing it with Domas. For me, McDermott can be an elite player away from the ball with his movement and cutting. He’s got that old school Jim Paxson kind of game, where’s he constantly moving. That’s an offense unto itself. In my mind, I picture him moving and occupying defenders’ minds, and then you’ve got a two-man game of Tyreke and Domas on one side and Doug coming off screens. You have to dial into that. If you’re not dialed into Doug, he’s going to shoot and we want him to shoot a lot. He shot 48 percent from three with Dallas late in the season.”
Storyline: Pacers Front Office