INDIANAPOLIS--How are the Indiana Pacers going to get better? That was just one of the many questions Pacers General Manager Kevin Pritchard and Coach Nate McMillan answered in their postseason press conference Wednesday.
Pritchard started off by saying that he was proud of the way the team played after the season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo.
“The previous year we had won 48 games. This team, with a major injury, was able to win 48 games. I could see that the guys wanted to come together and not give up on the season,” Pritchard said.
The tough loss to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, however, has Pritchard and the team looking ahead to the future. The team has $43 million in cap space to use on free agents and draft picks this offseason.
“We need some creation. We need a guy who can break down a defense. You’re seeing an offensive league. The rules are changing to give the offensive guy even more of an advantage, so I think we have to look at the offense,” said Pritchard.
He said he knew people would be wondering if the team could attract a big-name free agent.
“The thing that we can offer any player is that we believe we have a very strong culture. Players come here and they know they’re going to get taken care of. We’ve got the best physical therapy and training staff,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard says getting that type of free agent “may or may not happen.”
“The one thing that we believe very strongly in is that once you sign with us, we’re going to do our best to make you feel comfortable here. And we’re going to prove that by our daily actions,” Pritchard said.
The Victor Oladipo Injury
Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on January 23 against the Toronto Raptors. Pritchard was asked how long it will be before Victor Oladipo is back and healthy. He had just had dinner with Oladipo Sunday night.
“He has made it perfectly clear to me that he’s going to be back and a better player. When that happens, I’m not sure. But when you talk to him and you hear him speak like that, how do you not believe him? I left that dinner thinking, ‘Man we’re gonna be really good next year,’ Pritchard said.
Pritchard says when you have that kind of injury, you have the surgery. Then for about 12 to 13 weeks, it’s all about healing. Then you do physical therapy.
“He’s just starting the therapy part. I can’t give you a definitive timeline,” Pritchard said.
The Pacers have the 18th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft.
“I won’t be surprised if that pick isn’t the place we pick. Maybe we move up or move down. We’re going to be really aggressive with that pick. I love the draft, I can’t wait, I wish it was tomorrow,” Pritchard said.
The Pacers also have the 50th pick in the second round.
(PHOTO: Indiana Pacers)