NBA: Sunday Scoop: Pacers on the Move?

November 2nd, 2008

By: Joel Brigham

Bird Already Talking About Trades
Just a few games into the season, Indiana Pacers GM Larry Bird is talking about the need for his team to make moves. "We know where we're at," Bird said recently. "We've got to get better players." While they are still dangling Jamaal Tinsley hoping to get anything worthwhile in return, it's worth considering who else might be on the block in Indy.
Danny Granger, after getting a hefty extension earlier this week, clearly is the team's star moving forward as his 33 points in the team's first game helped prove. Coach Jim O'Brien reportedly has been extremely happy with his two points guards, T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack, and the rookies Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert aren't going anywhere.
That leaves a few notable names, including Mike Dunleavy Jr., Troy Murphy, and Marquis Daniels on the biggest expendable names on the roster. Of course, that begs the question, is there anything of value they can get out of those guys?
Gordon Actually Tried to Take the Money?
Interesting little tidbit from the Chicago Bulls regarding Ben Gordon and his sticky contract situation this past offseason. According to the Chicago Tribune, BG tried to accept a long-term offer from the Bulls—reportedly six years and about $55 million—right before signing the one-year qualifying offer instead, but the Bulls told him he waited too long and the deal was off the table.
A couple of thoughts on this: first of all, if there was a deadline set for a deal and Gordon didn't accept it by then, then that was still his own fault. He's played hardball for the last two summers looking to get big money, and to hear something got pulled at the last minute definitely raises some questions. Secondly, does this mean that Chicago really doesn't have big plans for Gordon after this season? They've started using Kirk Hinrich as their sixth man with relative success, pushing Gordon back to the team's seventh or eighth man, and that's not even considering Larry Hughes for when he returns from injury.
Gordon said, "I guess all things happen for a reason" regarding this situation, but you've got to think he's going to have a really hard time earning the money he wants this year playing so little. He no longer even has the leverage of being the team's top scorer. Derrick Rose is now that guy.
'Melo Gets a Mop Chop
Bye-Bye Cornrows. Denver's Carmelo Anthony shaved off his trademark cornrows before Saturday night's game against the Lakers, giving him a sudden stark resemblance to teammate Kenyon Martin. In any event, it'll be interesting to see if that improves his or Allen Iverson's output so far this season, because through three games neither one of those two guys has been consistently effective.
Both guys were among the top five scorers last season, but so far Iverson is 32nd with just over 18 points a night, and Anthony scored only 13 points in his first game last night. For the record, that puts him somewhere in the 80s, right below Portland forward Travis Outlaw, Milwaukee forward Charlie Villanueva, and Sacramento rookie Jason Thompson. Is it any wonder the Nugs are 1-2?
The League's Best So Far
At the top of every division is an undefeated team, some of which already have played three games and won them all. Seeing the L.A. Lakers and New Orleans Hornets in that group shouldn't surprise anyone, but the 3-0 Toronto Raptors clearly are going to make things difficult for the rest of the Atlantic Division this season. With Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal averaging a combined 37 points and 17 rebounds, they're going to be a formidable frontcourt this season if they can stay healthy.
As for the best individual players so far, it's hard to say since some players' great games skew the numbers early on, but Joe Johnson is the top scorer through his first two games, averaging 30 points. The early rebounding leaders are Elton Brand and Dwight Howard with 14.3 rpg through three contests (Tyson Chandler had 16 boards in his one appearance), and not surprisingly Chris Paul is leading in assists with 12 per game.
Does any of this really matter less than a week into the season? Maybe not, but sometimes you can see trends right away, and little in what is mentioned above is particularly surprising, meaning some guys are doing exactly what's expected of them right out of the gate.