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Tony East, WTHR.com Indiana Pacers Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR
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January 17, 2024 6:53 pm

Tony East, WTHR.com Indiana Pacers Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR

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January 17, 2024 6:53 pm

Tony East joined JR to discuss the Pacers acquiring Pascal Siakam and if Indiana can contend to win the Eastern Conference. 

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Hey Tony, how are you man?

Thank you for taking the time to hop on. You got it, hectic day, but happy to talk to the Pacers. Absolutely. Well, we heard this coming down the pipe over the past 24 to 48 hours. Pascal Siakam has been rumored to be traded for the past several years. What are your initial reactions when the trade went down? Yeah, it was not super surprising. The first time I heard that Siakam would be available potentially to the Pacers was actually back in summer league last July.

So, in terms of surprise about a trade actually happening, none of that for me, but the way it was done, the price, all that stuff was very fascinating. Three first-round picks, like you said earlier, quite the commitment from the Pacers and certainly an endorsement on their end that they believe perhaps they can keep him long term, even beyond this season. And this Pacers team has needed forwards forever. Absolutely lacking forward depth. They've been trying some threes at the power forward spot, like Gary Neesmith, who's 6'5". They've been trying some centers at the power forward spot. They just haven't had anybody for really four years now. So, to lock up one of the premier talents in the league at that spot is very significant for a team on the rise that has Tyrese Halliburton in the way.

Yeah, it's Tyrese Halliburton. We know he's out with that hamstring injury. What's the status? What's the latest with him? Yeah, when they announced it, that is a grade one strain.

Halliburton was thrilled. He wasn't sure how bad it would be or if it would be something super long term. Something like that is usually two weeks, maybe a little over that for NBA players. Pacers are currently on a road trip and Halliburton actually went with the team, even though he's not playing, just because he could be with the team positions, with the physical therapists. You get the treatment on the road, be with his team, which if it was really serious and he needed some specialized treatment or needed to see where to stay back.

So, I think that is important to the Pacers that he could have done that and shows that it's not going to be a significantly long thing. Perhaps he could be re-evaluated as soon as they come back and his return could come soon after. They've got three more games on their current road trip. Tonight or tomorrow in Sacramento is the first one of those, but they've been okay without them. They won in Atlanta. They beat the Wizards who just completely stink, but I think they're hoping to see that maybe close to the end of the month and they'll be re-evaluated at the end of their current trip.

Okay, great. Tony East is joining us, covers the Indiana Pacers for wthr.com as well as Forbes. You know, I was even looking towards the NBA All-Star game. We know that's going to take place in Indianapolis. It takes place, goes down I should say on February 18th and we know that's pretty much a, I don't want to say a coming out party, but it's a showcase really a lot for him. He's going to be a centerpiece. So, you think he'll be all set and ready to go by then?

Yeah, I would imagine so. They even play the Sacramento Kings in early February, February 2nd here in Indy and, you know, guys love going against their former team. So, I think he's going to be, if he can be, I think he's going to be ready for that one. But yeah, I mean, it's like, it's a huge deal to be able to be an All-Star in your city and even potentially a starter. He has the second most votes of the fan votes of any card in the league behind anybody, except for Luca. He's got more than Steph. I mean, he has the last round of voting, which is just crazy to see given those players' popularity and he's earned it. He's been fantastic. He's been fun to watch.

He got him to the NCAA tournament finals. It's just in a market like Indiana to see something like that. It's crazy. So yeah, it could be a coming out kind of party deal, you know, that there was thinking that it'd be a big deal for like Donovan Mitchell in Utah, but then they traded him before it and Cleveland had that kind of deal with Donovan Mitchell, funnily enough, and Darius Garland.

So, like, it can be a huge deal to have that in your city, to have that coming out party be in your backyard. And I think that's a big opportunity for Halbert and something he's looking forward to this year. Tony East is joining us.

The JR Sport B Show on CBS Sports Radio. Good to know that Tyrese Halliburton will be back sooner than later, hopefully. And when you look at the way the team is currently constructed, having Halliburton and healed shooting and Pascal Siakam running and Miles Turner, he's pretty up and down himself. This is already a team in the Pacers that leads the NBA in scoring. Are they going to now inch that forward? Like, how much more can they do out there?

Yeah, it's kind of hard to imagine what better would look like. I mean, Siakam is more efficient than some of their options at the four, so that could make their offense even better somehow, which is hard to imagine. I think that he'll actually help them on defense more than offense, funnily enough. Like, they're consistent second score in a way that they don't have. They have a bunch of guys who can be that.

Benedict Matheran, Miles Turner, Aaron Neesmith, Buddy Keel, they've all done it at times this season and that's when they're all good players. But Siakam can do it almost every night, if not every night, which I think is a pretty big deal for this Indiana team to have that sort of consistency. So I think he'll make their offense at their peak more often, I'd say, is how I would describe his impact on that end.

But they can't guard big force. All these guys have huge nights against them. Aaron Gordon puts up 20 and 10 every time they play. Harrison Barnes has big games against them.

Gordon Hayward, right? Obviously, the stars do well against everybody, but the Pacers haven't had answers for that kind of player, that size of player for years. And I think Siakam, just by naturally being that size and being pretty mobile, well it pays just a ton on that end of the floor. And I think their offense will be a little better, but I think it's actually their defense that has been quite frankly horrible this season.

Well, we'll be a little bit better with them in the mix. Well, we know in the Eastern Conference, there are a lot of big forwards that are going to be opposing Pascal Siakam. And he's certainly going to help out to your point, whether it's someone like a Tatum or you look at a Giannis Atetokounmpo, I'm sure Siakam is going to be tasked with going out there and trying to put the pause on them. When you look at the other teams in the East, have the Indiana Pacers, in your opinion, elevated themselves up to some of these other squads in their level? Yeah, nobody can really stop Giannis or Tatum, but at least Siakam can make them work for it, right?

Have less energy for a 48-minute game. And the Pacers are at a tight race in that you know, four through eight-ish in the East right now with the Cavs, the Magic, the Knicks, who are on fire in the heat. And they're currently sixth right now. So separating themselves from that group in any way would be significant because if you're sixth, you're in the playoffs.

If you're seventh, you're in the play-in and it's just a little bit tougher, a little bit riskier getting into the playoffs itself. And I think they can separate from that group. The Cavs have won five in a row. They're on fire.

So they might be tough to catch. The Knicks are obviously better after getting in an OB. The Heat somehow win.

You and I can play for the Heat and they would win games somehow. But you know, if the Pacers now with Siakam can eke out some wins and stay ahead of two teams in that group, you know, it's used for their long-term outlook to maybe be, one, a postseason team and two, a team that maybe can win a round or at least can put up some fight that was unexpected, right? They have some inexperienced young guys on their team.

Tyrese Halbert never played a playoff game, right? So it's hard to know what they're going to look like when the postseason comes now. They have Siakam who's won a title as a premier option for their actors that can really help them in that setting and can help them get there in the first place. So I think they've elevated themselves enough to hopefully separate. They'll think at least in that four to eight group. But after that, they've got to make some noise if they want to win a round because the top three is still looking tough. Tony East is here with us.

The JR Sport Reshow on CBS Sports Radio. What is the sentiment among Pacers fans that you've, I guess, heard on the radio that you've seen on social media, especially knowing that Siakam is in the last year of his deal and that there were three first round has given up? Yeah, that it's, you know, both scary and exciting. If you're a fan of the team, the exciting part is that Pascal Siakam will be on the Pacers, right?

That's a huge deal. He's a terrific player and so I hope to have those on your team as a fan. And the Pacers kept all their young guys. I think that's another thing fans are excited about to see. You know, Jeris Walker, Benedict Mather and Andrew Nembhard, they're all still on the Pacers, right? So they have young talent to still develop, even though they don't have as many draft picks going forward.

But of course, that's the scary part, right? Is they've got to keep them now. They've got to be willing to pay them. They're going to be willing to pay them when it takes to keep them because otherwise this is a very risky trade going forward. And the Sixers are sitting out there with cap space this summer. Maybe they could be aggressive and trying to get Siakam. So it might take a pretty penny to keep them. That's the next step for the Pacers is figuring that out.

Is it worth it? That, of course, will make fans nervous. But if you get Pascal Siakam and you can keep them for multiple years, you got to do it. And that's the Pacers hope certainly.

Yeah. Congratulations to the Pacers. I think they have improved as a team. And I just hope that they stay healthy.

I'd love to see how they battle some of the more established teams in the East. Hey, Tony, where can people follow you and keep up with all of your work? Yep.

Yep. I'm on Twitter or whatever. X at Tony R East and all my socials and places I write can be found.

Write in my bio on there. And I have a podcast called Locked on Pacers that comes out every single day about this team. If you want to hear more about this trade. Well, thank you so much, Tony.

Appreciate it. And have a good time. What are your plans for All Star? What are you going to be doing besides running around like a crazy person, probably? Yeah, I'm going to try to go to every event I can.

The two arenas everything's in are only like a mile apart. So I think it'll be possible. Maybe I'm going to try to be one of those people that hold the celebrity seat until they show up.

Right. Just so I can sit with all the celebs and feel cool for a couple of minutes before I actually work. So you're going to do the celebrity game in Indiana and then you're going to go wait, the celebrity game is that before or after? What are they doing this year? Are we doing Rising Stars USA versus the what are we doing this year? Yeah, they're doing the celeb game with captains that are social media people. I don't know who they are.

I guess they're involved in it. And yeah, they're still doing Rising Stars. They're doing that G League All Star game now too. And then the actual All Star game is back to East versus West, which I think is cool. If I could make them make one more change, it would be that the guys get to wear their own team's jersey. I think that's always that was a really cool thing is in the past, but they didn't they're not going back to that. Yeah, that'll confuse the hell out of me.

The last time I can visually remember that was Madison Square Garden in like I don't know 9698 whatever year they did not have a dunk contest is the last time I remember like out going out in the All Star game like that just looks cool to bring that back. Yeah, we'll see. Maybe they can also change the name on the end season tournament. They got a list. Sony appreciate you, man. Have a good time out there. Okay, well, let's get you back on when the All Star game swings around. You got it. Thanks for having me.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-17 20:26:44 / 2024-01-17 20:32:16 / 6

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