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Unclebuck
06-03-2004, 12:14 AM
http://www.indystar.com/articles/7/151861-8167-179.html





Pacers to consider adjustments


By Mark Montieth
mark.montieth@indystar.com
June 2, 2004


When Donnie Walsh hired Larry Bird as the Indiana Pacers president last July, he knew exactly what qualities he was getting.

"I think he sees the issues very clearly," Walsh said later. "Once he sees what the issues are, he responds to them very directly."

That's a good thing because the Pacers' roster has issues. As young and impressive as it is, it is a complex puzzle, and the pieces aren't likely to fit as well next season as they did in this one when prideful veterans and anxious young players were willing to sit quietly amid a 61-win season.

Next season promises to be different. Bird's challenge will be to upgrade their talent and maintain stability amid so many changing circumstances.

The confusion surrounding the roster became evident in the Eastern Conference finals loss to Detroit, when coach Rick Carlisle tried three different starting lineups. Jeff Foster, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds in Game 5 of the second-round series with Miami, played just two minutes in Game 6 against the Pistons.

The Pacers don't need an overhaul, and they're almost assured of being a contender next season. But something will have to give.

Many of the changes will hinge on the status of Reggie Miller, who turns 39 in August. His contract runs through two more seasons, but he has stated repeatedly that he doesn't want to play past the age of 40. In that case, next season would be his last. He said earlier this season he might retire if the Pacers won the championship this season, but that didn't happen.

Miller fueled media speculation, however, by declining to answer when asked whether he would return following Tuesday's loss. His father, Saul, reached by telephone today, said he has heard nothing that makes him believe Miller will retire, adding "a decision like that wouldn't be made for another 30 days at least."

One thing is clear. Nobody within the organization wants him to retire. Miller averaged 10.0 points in the regular season and 10.1 points in the postseason, but his shooting percentages didn't drop much and his intangibles remain essential.

"He's been one of the best teammates I've ever had," said Austin Croshere, Miller's teammate for the past seven seasons. "We live close to each other in Los Angeles in the summer and I'll be over at his house every day to talk him out of it if that's what he decides."

Miller stated two summers ago he would be willing to come off the bench someday if that was best for the team. A trade for a starter is a possibility, but a successor already could be on hand. Fred Jones is athletic, a strong defender, an able passer and shot 49 percent from the field and 50 percent (11-of-22) from 3-point range in the postseason. He also is affordable, still working on his rookie contract.

The Pacers have tradable commodities, however, should they want to seek outside help. Al Harrington, runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year, doesn't want to continue in that role forever. His best chance for starting would be if Ron Artest is moved from small forward to shooting guard, but Harrington might always be frustrated on a team with plenty of scoring threats.

His contract, with two years remaining at $13.3 million, is not prohibitive and he is viewed by some as a potential All-Star.

A newspaper report out of Chicago claims the Bulls would trade the third overall pick in the draft for Harrington if the Pacers also took on one of their "bad" contracts, such as those belonging to Eddie Robinson or Jerome Williams.

Another logical trade target is Golden State center Erick Dampier, who would address the Pacers' need for a bigger frontline to compete with the Pistons and the Western Conference powers. Dampier, who led the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes (17.7) during the regular season, will opt out of his contract this summer and wants to play in the East.

He will command a major contract but could be available in a sign-and-trade. Chris Mullin, Bird's counterpart at Golden State, has a strong relationship with Bird, having played for him when Bird coached the Pacers and with him on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team.

Harrington and Artest seem to bring a glut of talent and ambition to the frontline, but Artest finished the season almost as enigmatically as he began it. He became one of the league's success stories by playing in the All-Star Game and earning Defensive Player of the Year honors after having been suspended for 12 games the previous season. But he still had more than the usual number of missed flights and practices, and ended the season with a controversial flagrant foul at a crucial point in Game 6.

Afterward, as was sometimes the case following disappointing losses, he voiced frustration.

"I want the ball more, so I've got to prove myself," he said. "Obviously we couldn't score the ball at the end. So I blame myself. I still have a lot to prove to people."

So does Jonathan Bender. The fifth pick in the 1999 draft, Bender has yet to play consistent minutes and remains a mystery. He averaged 10 points in 17 minutes in the first-round sweep of Boston but was ineffective in sporadic appearances against Detroit. Walsh never traded a player before he was sure of that player's ability, and Bird likely will take the same approach. A major move will have to be made, however, for Bender to get an opportunity.

Some players want out if more playing time can't be assured. Kenny Anderson, a reserve free agent, has stated he prefers to sign elsewhere. Jamison Brewer, the Pacers' other free agent, feels the same.

Scot Pollard, acquired in the sign-and-trade for Brad Miller last summer, played just 13 minutes in the postseason and has value as a veteran center. Neither he nor the front office wants him to spend another season in layaway.

The possibilities are endless. The players seem ready for almost anything.

"It's a strange world in professional sports," said Jermaine O'Neal, their most stable foundation. "Teams make changes. I've learned to handle what I can handle and that's just basketball. I'm going to let Larry and Donnie and our owners handle the movement part."

Ultimate Frisbee
06-03-2004, 12:25 AM
#3 draft pick and a crappy contract... eh...

TheSauceMaster
06-03-2004, 12:31 AM
Some players want out if more playing time can't be assured. Kenny Anderson, a reserve free agent, has stated he prefers to sign elsewhere. Jamison Brewer, the Pacers' other free agent, feels the same.

Scot Pollard, acquired in the sign-and-trade for Brad Miller last summer, played just 13 minutes in the postseason and has value as a veteran center. Neither he nor the front office wants him to spend another season in layaway.

You knew this was coming , too much talent and little playiing time ,we knew Kenny was gone anyways and there is a article in one of the Papers that NJ is very intrested in Kenny Anderson. I know it wasn't mentioned but I have heard bender is unhappy and wanting more mins also or he wants to go.

Glad too see Bird and Walsh are on the same page , but I wouldn't have expected anything less

Hicks
06-03-2004, 12:35 AM
Who are, say, the top 10 players in the draft, would you all think?

Because if there's a kick-*** shooting guard that we could nail with the #3 pick, and get a Foster-type player in Jerome Williams to come off the bench too, I might be for that. But again, only if there's a well-known talented shooting guard who could help right away.

Unclebuck
06-03-2004, 12:35 AM
As I predicted in another thread, Reggie will not retire but he will tell Rick that he wants to come off the bench.

TheSauceMaster
06-03-2004, 12:39 AM
Personally I think this years Draft is terriable , not much to go ahhh I need that guy he will be the bomb.

Peck
06-03-2004, 12:47 AM
Again, whenever I read something by Montieth I always wonder how much of this is news analysis or propoganda?

It has always been the policy of the Pacers to keep all of the dirty laundry out of the public eye, so whenever I read things about players I have to wonder if this isn't Donnie's way of preparing us for something. Then again in the electronic age a lot of this stuff get's out so Montieth is just repeating what has been reported.

The Artest thing for example was played live for the world on WTHR, so that isn't new news.

But for him to bring this up in this fashion always makes me wonder.

"Harrington and Artest seem to bring a glut of talent and ambition to the frontline, but Artest finished the season almost as enigmatically as he began it. He became one of the league's success stories by playing in the All-Star Game and earning Defensive Player of the Year honors after having been suspended for 12 games the previous season. But he still had more than the usual number of missed flights and practices, and ended the season with a controversial flagrant foul at a crucial point in Game 6.

Afterward, as was sometimes the case following disappointing losses, he voiced frustration.

"I want the ball more, so I've got to prove myself," he said. "Obviously we couldn't score the ball at the end. So I blame myself. I still have a lot to prove to people."

Unclebuck
06-03-2004, 12:51 AM
This might surprise you, but I don't mind what Artest said. I hope he works every day this summer, like I know he will, trying to prove something to people.

Ultimate Frisbee
06-03-2004, 12:58 AM
Here are some past #3s

2003: C. Anthony
2002: M. Dunleavy
2001: P. Gasol
2000: D. Miles
1999: B. Davis
1998: R. LaFrentz
1997: C. Billups
1996: S. Abdur-Rahim
1995: J. Stackhouse
1994: G. Hill
1993: A. Hardaway
1992: C. Laettner
1984: M. Jordan

Maybe a number 3 pick wouldn't be so bad, but I there are no standout SGs... hoopshype only predicts 1 in the top 21 picks, at #9 in Andre Iguodala, but it says that he is not a scorer. We could get Gordon there probably.. I think he is ready to contribute and is definently a scorer, but is probably limited to PG (although perhaps a iverson like SG)

Peck
06-03-2004, 12:58 AM
Of course you don't mind what he said.

But in all honesty can you say you are even slightly objective when it comes to Ron?

Anthem
06-03-2004, 02:03 AM
Some players want out if more playing time can't be assured. Kenny Anderson, a reserve free agent, has stated he prefers to sign elsewhere. Jamison Brewer, the Pacers' other free agent, feels the same.

This is news.

Cactus Jax
06-03-2004, 02:08 AM
Some players want out if more playing time can't be assured. Kenny Anderson, a reserve free agent, has stated he prefers to sign elsewhere. Jamison Brewer, the Pacers' other free agent, feels the same.

This is news.

For some reason I don't give a crap. :confused: :neutral:

ROCislandWarrior
06-03-2004, 02:27 AM
We shouldn't be worried about brewer, I think we all see the need for a shooter/scorer...that is exactly what jesus isn't.

wintermute
06-03-2004, 06:18 AM
so kenny and brewer both want to leave? not surprising since they haven't played much lately.

how about aj though? people seem to assume he'll be with the pacers next season. weird about aj, he's gone from the most hated pacer to a backup pg most people can live with.

however, he has an opt out on a paltry contract (1 year left - not exactly job security), after playing his best series ever. dontcha think he'll opt out and test the market? he's not risking much, and at worst he'll probably find another one year deal, pacers would be sure to have him back if they're losing kenny and siggy.

so we might end up losing all our backup pgs. frankly, the yearly rent a pg doesn't appeal to me. or maybe we'll give aj a long term deal? i don't think he's that good. maybe the draft?

Unclebuck
06-03-2004, 09:22 AM
Of course you don't mind what he said.

But in all honesty can you say you are even slightly objective when it comes to Ron?

:laugh: That is why I said tongue in cheek, this might surprise you.


I think I have been critical of Ron this year at times. Pointing out some of his strange behavior in game #2. In this Pistons series, there were games like #4 and #6 when Ron did a good job of staying within the offense, but there were games like #2 and #5 where he did not.

Ron is not an easy guy to coach,

Peck
06-03-2004, 09:26 AM
Of course you don't mind what he said.

But in all honesty can you say you are even slightly objective when it comes to Ron?

:laugh: That is why I said tongue in cheek, this might surprise you.


I think I have been critical of Ron this year at times. Pointing out some of his strange behavior in game #2. In this Pistons series, there were games like #4 and #6 when Ron did a good job of staying within the offense, but there were games like #2 and #5 where he did not.

Ron is not an easy guy to coach,

Hey, it's all good.

I know what it's like to have undying loyalty to a player.

My Son asked me what I thought needed to be done with this team & the first trade out of my mouth was a trade that brought back Dale Davis. :blush:

Some things just never die. :dance:

Suaveness
06-03-2004, 10:23 AM
This might surprise you, but I don't mind what Artest said. I hope he works every day this summer, like I know he will, trying to prove something to people.

Honestly, I don't mind what he said either. I'm glad he said that in fact.

As for Brewer, I could care less. He hasn't played, and isn't all that good anyway, in my opinion.