The Indiana Pacers are imploding.
The team started the season looking like a true championship contender, and a real threat to dethrone the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Then suddenly, after the all-star break, things went south.
Paul George’s play has plateaued, the Indiana offense has been awful, Frank Vogel’s job security is a television topic, and the team looks like a shell of its season-starting self.
Then came Sunday night.
In a home game against Atlanta with playoff implications, as the Pacers continue to fight for the top spot in the standings, Indiana scored 23 (!) first half points, and was booed badly by the same crowd that was so supportive earlier in the season. The Pacers were embarrassed off the floor by a hobbling Hawks team that is 33-42 on the season.
Roy Hibbert, who continues to be a giant sulk-show, didn’t log a single second in the second half, and instead stayed sidelined while his team struggled. Seems like Andrew Bynum might be rubbing off on Hibbert a little bit.
Hibbert, who appears to be a big part of the Pacers’ problem himself, has shifted the blame recently, saying that some Pacer players are "selfish," without naming names.
“Some selfish dudes in here,” he stated.
While Hibbert didn’t go as far as identifying the individuals in question, NBA Insider Ric Bucher thinks he has a good idea of who Hibbert was referring to.
“There has been an issue since they acquired Evan Turner,” Bucher stated in a video for Bleacher Report.
“Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson are both free agents to be, and we know with young guys looking for their first big contract, they can’t quite escape that what their production is, is going to have a big impact on the kind of contract they receive,” he said.
Bucher went on to explain that, before the trade for Turner, Stephenson was clearly the "next big thing" in Indiana with Granger on his way out, but the addition of Turner has muddied that somewhat, as Turner is "trying to accomplish the very same thing."
According to Bucher’s report, the former 76er has only assisted on one, yes one, Hibbert basket since he became a part of the Pacers. That probably accounts for some of the perceived selfishness that Hibbert spoke of.
The issue in Indiana between Stephenson and Turner could have been predicted, as both play a similar style and both will be looking to get paid this summer. But, Indiana made the move anyway, and now they are facing a plethora of problems with the playoffs approaching, as well as issues to address in the offseason.