OK Pacers. Spiritual failures require spiritual solutions. Here are my summer job prescriptions to help you recover from the trauma of this wack season.
PAUL GEORGE: First meet your daughter, then get away from everything for a while. I know you loved Palmdale’s sandiness so to get that along with your emotional reset and guidance from above, I recommend the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, “surrounded by miles of undisturbed wilderness amidst the Chama Canyon wilderness area 75 miles north of Santa Fe.”
LANCE STEPHENSON: Train with Pai Mei. The most famous Shaolin Temple is too commercialized to help you now, but I’m sure we can find the right dojo to change your life. You’re the real-life talented but uncontrolled and violent hero from kung fu movies and you need to channel your strength before wasting your skills and hurting more people (I remember the domestic violence incident).
GEORGE HILL: Being quiet and kind is great, but your decisiveness, confidence, and assertiveness were sorely lacking this year. Also you seem a bit too comfortable in Indy. So try India. Travel through it for a month by yourself, and by the time you’re done NBA basketball will seem easy. Bring a DS for train rides so you can play tons of fast-twitch video games where you need to make choices quickly and confidently. But be really careful about where you eat.
DAVID WEST: You showed signs of leadership this year and we urgently need to cultivate that. I know you’re socially conscious, so when you’re not practicing corner 3’s, spearhead a criminal justice reform campaign and do community outreach for the Indy NAACP. Meanwhile you will be the 24-hour emergency liaison for everyone who’s abroad.
ROY HIBBERT: Roy. We still love you. Don’t get too down on yourself. But you need fresh air as well as improved discipline, body language, physical fitness, quickness, and social skills. Since you’re also an otaku, I know just the place for you! Go to Japan, teach English at a rural school, and do the endless motion drills of their basketball clubs. You’ll grow and you’ll also receive unconditional affirmation. Plus you can Tweet with your new student friends, but be warned most of them will come off as pervs because of what they RT.
IAN MAHINMI: You will be joining Roy in Japan but doing something even more special. You need to work a lot on your physical coordination under pressure and recharge emotionally around some really positive and excitable people, so you should follow in Bob Sapp’s footsteps and become a reoccurring contestant in Japanese came shows. The games are awesome and challenging, and you will have a blast and become a YouTube hero.
LUIS SCOLA: Phys ed and substitute Spanish teacher on the East Side by day and Broad Ripple barfly by night. You would be awesome at this. In fact, you should just retire and do it full-time if you can’t become a reliable 3-point shooter this summer.
CHRIS COPELAND: While Roy’s in Japan we need someone to take the fans out for parties and you are the perfect candidate. You are the most popular player on the team right now–though Vogel hasn’t made you feel like it–so come out and enjoy it. You DO need to work on your defensive fundamentals so spend the rest of your time at basketball camps.
WATSON, SLOAN: We need more point guard skills. Stand outside John Stockton’s front door every single day until he agrees to take you on as students.
DANNY GRANGER: Come home! Be our 12th man and Paul’s Barnabas. Get a hyperbaric chamber.
BUTLER, ALLEN, S.HILL: You guys seem cool and normal; I wonder if that is why you saw the court so rarely this season. You may focus on basketball.
TURNER, BYNUM: At a loss for words with you two. Both the attitude and the ability to stay in the league are lacking. The best way to redeem yourselves is to donate a lot of money to Riley Children’s Hospital on your way out.
FRANK VOGEL: You are unfailingly positive and need to go somewhere where young people will treat you well for once. Become a youth minister at a church. You also need some new ideas, so make friends with Hubie Brown.
Front office, you need to keep clocking in all summer so what I have to say to you is more direct.
Taking responsibility for your failures and repenting is healthy. Ultimately what happened is on you, and if you confess your basketball sins you will attain the lightness of being to make clear-headed decisions about the future.
Maybe Hinkle Fieldhouse is the St. Peter’s of basketball (I am skeptical about Indiana’s basketball faith at present for numerous reasons) but the man you need an audience with to obtain absolution is Bill Russell. Talk the season over with him and some of the other sages and then come back to work.
Here is your examination of conscience:
1. Larry falls too much in love with particular players and then gets fleeced in trades for them when the GM on the other line realizes that. There must be more than 14 players in the league that you like, so when you want to make deals, call EVERYONE instead of letting a single bidder keep raising your offer like the Spurs did for George Hill and the Suns did for Luis Scola.
2. You don’t have an analytics game. Get on that! I am afraid the thought processes of the 3 of you are all too similar to teach other. Bring in someone different, like Zach Lowe, but preferably someone who isn’t busy writing the NBA’s best columns.
3. Like 10 years ago, you tempted fate by letting too many punks on the team; namely, the midseason deals for the notorious malefactors Turner and Bynum pushed us over the edge. Whether it’s in the locker room or on the bench, more people with clear moral authority and the ability to keep the youth on the straight and narrow are needed.
4. A different bench philosophy is needed. Instead of bringing in guys who are simply lesser versions of the starters, find players with different and complementary skill sets that we can use when we’re stuck with mismatches. When there have been unique pieces like Copeland or Gerald Green, Frank has disdained them if their D isn’t good enough and kept them on the bench so he can keep running the same style as always. The Heat and Spurs are beyond us because every guy they bring in can do something different, which makes them way more flexible and harder to checkmate.
Finally, HERB: Improve our karma; take advantage of your higher revenues to stop stealing money from the public treasury. Let the annual $10 million from Indy go to schools and hospitals instead. Also, don’t fear the luxury tax; life is short and the cap is going to soar the next few years anyway.
Those are my ideas. Looking forward to reading your own in-kind suggestions in the comments.