The Indiana Pacers won 49 games last season, nabbed the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and pushed the defending champion Miami Heat to a seventh game. They'll also have Roy Hibbert, George Hill, David West and presumably Paul George, assuming they agree to an extension, locked up for the foreseeable future. It's been a slow ascent to the top, but barring any debilitating injuries, Indiana will be regular contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The only notable blemish is the departure of assistant coach Jim Boylen. Boylen, spending two seasons with Indiana, left Frank Vogel's staff to join the only franchise that came closer to upending the Heat last year: the San Antonio Spurs.
Vogel, admittedly, was a bit "surprised."
Via Blue Collar Gold Swagger:
Vogel said he was “a little surprised” by Boylen’s departure for San Antonio after two seasons with the Pacers.
“But look, (Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich can pick up the phone and get you a job,” Vogel said. “They have one of the best cultures in the NBA, one that we’re trying to mimic. I certainly understand it and respect it and we wish him the best. We’re going to remain friends for a long time – and I look forward to beating him in the Finals.”
With Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta) and potentially Brett Brown grabbing head coaching positions, Popovich's staff is in dire need of some basketball acumen. Boylen is qualified to fill in those gaps.
And he'll gladly take on Vogel's challenge — that is, if Indiana can get by Miami first.