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Will Galen
05-14-2006, 03:24 AM
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060514/SPORTS04/605140425

OFFSEASON ISSUES

Will Jermaine O'Neal be back?

Team CEO Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird will talk with a lot of teams this summer. O'Neal isn't expected to be traded unless the Pacers get a deal that's too good to pass up.


Will coach Rick Carlisle be harder on the players next year?

One of the complaints against Carlisle this season was that he was too soft on some players, which caused problems with others. Players tuned out Carlisle at times.


Will Peja Stojakovic re-sign?

Both sides say they want to get a deal done. The Pacers need to re-sign him to avoid walking away empty handed from the trade that sent Ron Artest to Sacramento.


Can the Pacers trade Jamaal Tinsley?

In an ideal situation, having Tinsley and Anthony Johnson on the roster would mean the Pacers have a dependable point guard on the court at all times. The Pacers may decide to shop Tinsley, who is oft-injured and signed through 2010-11.


Will Carlisle get a contract extension?

Carlisle is entering the final season of his four-year deal. He declined comment last week when asked about his contract situation. Carlisle is expected to meet with Bird and Walsh this week.


5 REASON TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR

Possibly a new-look team

Team president Larry Bird said last month there won't be much time for golf this summer because he'll be too busy trying to improve the team. Now it's a matter of waiting to see whom they acquire through trades and free agency.


The Pacers can finally forget about last season

Until the season starts in early November, the talk over the next few months will be about how the Pacers underachieved last season and what they need to do to be a contender again.


Danny Granger

Granger showed this season what type of player he can be. He guarded Cleveland's LeBron James and New Jersey's Vince Carter on the perimeter and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki in the post. Granger has the potential to play three positions -- shooting guard and both forward spots.


Artest returning to Detroit for the first time since the brawl

Artest is in Sacramento, but Pacers fans will still have at least one eye on his first visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills since the brawl Nov. 19, 2004, that started the organization's downward spiral. The Pacers traded Artest just before they visited Detroit, and the Kings had already played there by the time they acquired him.


Another year of expectations

Barring a rebuilding effort that guts the team of much of its talent, the Pacers will be expected to make the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. However, there is a lot of work ahead if they expect to catch up with Detroit at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Pacers season breakdown
5 STORY LINES FROM 2005-06

Ron Artest wants to be traded, Dec. 10

Artest surprised everybody when, during a solo workout following a morning shootaround, he said he wanted to be traded. Every time he made a 3-pointer during that workout, he mentioned a team he would consider playing for. "I still think my past haunts me here," Artest said. "I think, somewhere else, I'm starting fresh. I'm coming in with baggage, but people already know about it and how I'm going to be. Either they're going to be for me or they're not going to trade for me. Here, I think my past haunts me."

Pacers say they will trade Artest, Dec. 12

CEO Donnie Walsh told Artest to stay away from the team and Artest was put on the inactive list. "We're in second place in our conference, yet all the headlines are about, 'Ron Artest wants to be traded,' " Walsh said. "I don't think the team needs that type of distraction."

Artest traded to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic, Jan. 25

The Pacers cut ties with Artest after three-plus seasons by sending him to the Kings. The deal almost didn't happen. Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, reportedly told the Kings his client didn't want to go to Sacramento. Artest remained on the inactive list for more than six weeks. "It wasn't going to work here anymore," Walsh said the day the trade was made. ". . . No matter how much support we gave him, it was just over."

Pacers finish with worse record than 2004-05, April 7

New York's Jamal Crawford (left in photo) made a jumper over Stephen Jackson with a half-second left at Madison Square Garden, ensuring the Pacers a worse record than last season. Last year's team finished 44-38. This year's team was more talented but lacked chemistry and cohesiveness.

Pacers get sixth seed in East, April 19

Two years after reaching the Eastern Conference finals, the Pacers needed to win their final game to clinch the sixth seed. The Pacers lost to the New Jersey Nets in six games in the first round of the playoffs.


TOUGH LOSSES

Milwaukee - 103-102, Nov. 12

The Pacers blew a 14-point lead with less than four minutes remaining by going 6-of-16 from the free throw line in the final two minutes. Veteran teams do the little things to win games.


Charlotte - 122-90, Nov. 16

The Pacers were blown out by the second-year Bobcats. Jeff Foster called this the first chink in their armor. "This team needs to step up and find some leadership and stop doing these things," Austin Croshere said after the game. Croshere and Jermaine O'Neal had a private meeting the next day.


Atlanta - 87-85, Nov. 25

Could have picked any of the Pacers' four losses to Atlanta, but this stands out because O'Neal and Stephen Jackson had a heated exchange on the court and then had to be separated by teammates during a timeout.


Chicago - 102-96, April 4

The Pacers led by 17 with less than nine minutes left in the game only to watch Ben Gordon almost single-handedly beat them by scoring 16 of his 23 points in the final quarter.


Detroit - 98-73, April 9

The Pacers were blown out on national television, letting everybody know they aren't in the same class as the Pistons. The always-opinionated O'Neal took it to another level after the game. "We're just embarrassing ourselves each and every night," he said. "We don't even deserve to be in the playoffs."
A LOSS, BUT . . .


Charlotte - 92-91, OT, April 15
The Pacers lost to the Bobcats -- again -- but a Philadelphia loss that same night earned the franchise its ninth consecutive playoff berth and 15th in the past 16 seasons.


TOP WINS L.A. Lakers - 105-79, Feb. 1

Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to get his first victory with the Pacers. Kobe Bryant scored 26 points on 8-of-24 shooting.


Detroit - 93-85, Feb. 4

Foster and Scot Pollard combined for 24 rebounds and Jackson scored 20 points to beat the Pistons without O'Neal (groin).


Sacramento - 98-93, March 17

Ron Artest was booed every time he touched the ball in his first game at Conseco Fieldhouse since being traded to the Kings in late January. Danny Granger scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Artest finished with 18 points on 6-of-22 shooting.


Orlando - 89-83, April 19

Pacers get win that allowed them to avoid a losing record and Detroit in the first round.