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Visits from Paul George, Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward and LeBron James highlight the schedule for the revamped Indiana Pacers.
Scott Horner/IndyStar

 

Myles Turner is the Indiana Pacers’ top returning player, and he’s embracing that role.

Turner, 21, who is entering his third season with the Pacers, said on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’ that he’s “more than confident” in what they can accomplish this season.

“I honestly expect us to make the playoffs,” he said. “A lot of people are writing us off, a lot of people don’t see us.

“The Eastern Conference is a little wide open right now. A lot of people moved from the Eastern Conference to the West. A few teams are in rebuilding mode. … I think we can sneak in there. We have the versatility at every position to do so. We brought in a lot of pieces. I’m more than confident.”

He’s right that several star players moved from the East to the West, but one of them was Paul George, who made four All-Star teams while with the Pacers. 

 

Turner said he was a little groggy when he learned of George’s trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

“I woke up from a two-hour nap and my phone was going absolutely crazy,” he said. “We kind of knew he was going to be traded, but Oklahoma City, of all places, was very random.”

The Pacers got Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in return, and that was part of a roster overhaul Turner said he likes.

“We have so much young talent right now,” Turner said. “I really like what our front office did this year. We’re bringing in a whole bunch of young guys.

“The first two years I was here, we brought in nothing but vets. No offense to the vets, but there’s a spirit you get with the younger guys. Night in and night out, we’re going to be able to bring that energy.”

Turner said he was excited when he heard singer Ed Sheeran wore his Hickory jersey during a recent concert at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Turner said he tried to meet Sheeran but didn’t get to the fieldhouse in time.

Former Pacer Stephen Jackson, who is part of the show’s panel, offered Turner a little advice.

“Don’t go into the stands.” 

Yeah.

The Pacers report for training camp next week, and assistant coach Dan Burke — who specializes in defense — will be waiting.

Turner asked Jackson if there is any way to satisfy Burke.

“Him not being satisfied means he’s trying to get the best out of you, and that’s all he really wants,” Jackson said.