Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — The Indiana Pacers’ coaching change could spell good news for Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson.
And Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George, too.
“I think a lot of times the young guys are going to be the ones that help you win the most,” Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel said Sunday, according to the Indy Star. “I can’t play all 15 guys. That’s one of the challenges of being a head coach.
“I think our fans should be excited. This is going to be an exciting part of the second half of the year.”
Former coach Jim O’Brien publicly criticized Hibbert and Stephenson, which was part of the reason Pacers president Larry Bird made the change.
“You look at some of our players, especially Roy, it looks like he’s down,” Bird said. “He’s not running around having a good time like he was earlier. … He’s very important to this franchise and we’ve got to have him playing on a high level.”
Earlier this month, O’Brien took a shot at the 6-foot-5 Stephenson, too.
“If I thought we could be better if I played Lance, I would,” O’Brien said, according to NBA.com. “That’s not my opinion.”
Stephenson won four PSAL titles at Brooklyn Lincoln and became New York State”s all-time scoring leader before being named Big East Rookie of the Year in his one season at Cincinnati.
He has struggled with off-court issues and last summer was arrested for pushing his daughter’s mother down a flight of stairs.
After being selected 40th overall by the Pacers in last summer’s draft, he has yet to play in a game for Indiana.
“I just have to learn how to be at the right spot at the right time,” he told ZAGSBLOG contributor Mike Vorkunov earlier this month at MSG.
“Everybody knows I can score and get to the basket but on the defensive side, where to be at and how to help my teammates when the ball is on the other side. Just learning that, I think I’ll be good and getting better at it.”
He added: “Every day in practice, I try to do something to learn something different or add something to my game. Every day is a learning experience for me.”
Now he may finally get a chance to a play.
“Larry Bird stated his position clearly,” Alberto Ebanks, Stephenson’s agent, said by text. “He and I both want to see Lance play and it appears that it will happen.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.