• The Pacers fired Jim O'Brien Sunday, a move that many fantasy owners and Pacers backers will qualify with "finally." Factors in making the move - and replacing him with top assistant Frank Vogel - were O'Brien's repeated public criticisms of Roy Hibbert(notes) and an unwillingness to give consistent minutes to his younger players, both of which highlighted his shortcomings as a coach for this developing team. Larry Bird offered the following during the team's press conference:
"I never did that when I was a coach and I didn't like it when I was a player. If you look at some of our players, especially Roy, he looks like he's down. He's not running around, not having a good time like he was earlier. Obviously it's affecting him."
While blame for the Pacers' dismal recent performance can't all be pinned on O'Brien, it was clear that he was doing little to help the situation. Vogel isn't expected to make drastic changes to the game plan, but he will make some tweaks and certainly figures to establish a different and more consistent rotation. Other notables from the press conference: Bird would like to see Paul George(notes) and Tyler Hansbrough(notes) play more, Vogel expects Hibbert's game "to take off," and the Pacers are talking to a lot of teams about their expiring contracts. We'll get our first look at the new-ish Pacers on Monday night, in a choice matchup at home against the Raptors.
• Joakim Noah(notes) had his cast removed Monday and could be cleared for non-contact work as soon as Tuesday. Noah may be a little bit ahead of schedule in his rehab and a return after the All-Star break seems likely. It's time to get Noah back up to universal ownership (currently at 88%), because he's going to be right back in the mix as soon as he's activated.
• Other status updates: Neither Deron Williams(notes) (wrist) nor Mehmet Okur(notes) (back) are expected to be active for the Jazz on Monday night ... Devin Harris(notes) (shin) will be in the lineup for the Nets Monday, Jordan Farmar(notes) (back) will not ... Daniel Gibson(notes) is likely to miss the Cavs' next game or two because of a sore left quad ... Both Rodrigue Beaubois(notes) and Peja Sojakovic will have their statuses updated next Monday, and the active roster appears to be a consideration for both at that time ...
• Monday's notable matchups: CLE@MIA figures to produce one of the most lopsided final scores of the season ... The Pacers have an excellent matchup (TOR) for the first game of the Frank Vogel era ... DEN@NJN will be worth watching in the wake of the Melo-drama that engulfed both teams a few weeks back.
These and many more topics will be discussed in the Monday live blog, so stop by and participate in the discussion or just lurk and take it all in. We'll get started at 7pm PT/10pm ET.
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