They’re from Indianapolis so they’re already pretty much in their own little world. Someone has to help. Spaced, short phrases seem appropriate here. This how you console sad Pacers fans. Exactly like this. Don’t try and improv. Not now. Follow the script.
“Yeah, I know.”
You remind them you’re there in the breaths between sobs.
“It’s okay,” you say.
“It’ll be okay,” you say.
“It’s not going to be okay,” you think to yourself.
“Actually, nothing about this seems remotely okay,” you say out loud because you’re not really paying attention and you’re kind of hungry.
“Wait, what?” they respond.
“Shhhh. Shh,” you encourage, “It’s not your fault.” There’s a calzone in the fridge.
You reach for a bottle of water on the coffee table and accidentally take a direct, prolonged breath into their ear.
They take that the wrong way and leave.
Now that they’re gone, we can be blunt. In a word: fuck. Levity seems sinful here. The three brightest spots on Indiana’s roster over the last 18 months are, in reverse order, 3) in an all-time, all-baffling slump 2) in a different city 1) injured and gone for the year. George Hill was entering “Are we sure he’s a starter?” conversations as last season ended. We’re sure he is now, because sometimes attrition dictates worth and oh my god poor Indiana. It’s not your fault.
Rodney Stuckey is a different problem. He was never supposed to be near starting rotation conversation. Stuckey was an above average scoring threat against second teams last year. Stuckey’s contract, at about $1 million this year, would be a perfect scoring boost to complement Paul George and Lance Stephenson when the starting five rests. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but that’s an issue because those two are not there any more. Paul is out and Lance blew town, remember? Paul George and Lance Stephenson are not playing for the Pacers this year. It’s true. I would be only 86% surprised if Stuckey turned out to be Indiana’s lead scorer in 2015.
Let’s mention more unfortunate things because I have bad memories. (That’s a cheap shot, especially coming from someone who has Metta World Peace’s chosen name as 2/3s of mine, but what else do I have at this point?) In the case of 3 of the top 10 rotation players, my clearest memory of their game is a moment in which I laughed at them. It’d be rude to mention who they are. They’re Scola, Mahinmi, and Copeland, first names redacted to maintain anonymity. I don’t care if that last one doesn’t count. Hair and air are all I can think of.
David West, like most people, continues to age. Unfortunately, by chance of being born before most other people in the league, he started the aging process sooner. He is now more aged than most, and is only going to get agier over time, and sadly, at nearly the exact same pace as everyone else. This means that the initial age gap between him and younger players is going to basically stay the same forever. West was the most consistent contributor on both ends for the Pacers last year, but night-to-night consistency is what goes first as you get older. Old. That was the word I was looking for.
On the other hand, with the September 3rd contract to C.J. Fair the Pacers employed more C.J.’s in the last month than any other team in the league. Let’s take a moment to think about our favorite C.J.s.
What else is there to think about? With the Heat losing LeBron, the Cavs needing a few months to hit form, the Bulls still waiting on the return of the O.G. Derrick Rose, and a few other teams just finally being able to tread water without floaties, Indiana seemed like a lock for another high seed in the East and shot at the finals. Then the bad thing happened, which followed the other bad thing, then some more bad things occurred, and I almost forgot about that other bad thing, and that one was awful. Since 2014 started, it’s just been a steady, slow-motion avalanche. I didn’t want to mention it, but I’m not even sure C.J. Fair is on the team any more.