One of the most interesting things to me was how Reggie was called out for his attitude and leadership issues. Remind you of anyone?Quote:
Originally Posted by jermaine7fanThis is from the premiere issue of ESPN ProBasketball... it is a NBA preview edition...
- Beating Spike Lee isn't good enough. The Pacers had their chance, but with the Bulls back and the Magic coming of age, it may be gone.
Heard the one about Larry Brown after winning his first NBA title?
Talking head: "Well, Larry, you're finally going to Disney World."
Brown: "Yeah, but the lines are sooooo lonnnngggg."
No longer than the Pacer coach's shopping list, which would make you think the league's most valuable vagabond was trying to patch together a squad in Vancouver, not trying to fine-tune for a championship. Mr. Morose actually has never been closer to contentment, because neither he nor this humble hoop hamlet has been this close to the NBA Finals.
But life with Larry is a roller coaster, and last year's journey, which ended with the Pacers playing like Mickey Mouse in the Magic Kingdom, reinforced Brown's always suspecious nature. His grief now is that the Pacers aren't getting any younger. A roster loaded for immediate gratification must reload, not only to go the final step, but to have a future.
Starting Five: New Imprint
Collectively, the nucleus is in ti's prime, but Mr. Prime Time Reggie Miller, at 30 the oldest starter, is among those who may have peaked. More commonly known for wearing out nets, Miller and his newly minted image-over-substance media persona are wearing Brown out. Like Danny Manning before him, Miller chafes Brown. The difference: Brown put up with Manning because he wasn't one-deminsional.
Now, trade rumors abound as GM Donnie Walsh considers extending Miller's $4 million-plusa year pact. Miller last season delivered six-year lows in five catagories and a career worst .462 shooting percentage. He couldn't - or wouldn't - create for himself or his mates, as real stars do.
In the process, this became Rik Smits' team. Long the fall guy, the 7'4" center became the go-to-guy with a career season in minutes (30.5 per game), points (17.9), and rebounds (7.7), though his board game still needs work. Without double-team all over Smits' low post presence, Miller might have been just a rumor.
If Dale Davis' shoulders can stay in place long enough, he may yet make the all-star team. He has all you want in a young power forward escept low-post polish. Small forward Derrick McKey remains the most overrated-underrated player in the league. Brown blew his horn at will last year, but unassuming McKey's modest numbers, while not indicative of his true value, beg for improvement.
The Bench: Running on Empty
A big chunk of a once-deep bench was chucked. Byron Scott, a straight-talking veteran who shadowed Miller's shooting range, was lost to the expansion draft. This time, even-more-over-the-hill 13-year vet Ricky Pierce and unproven second-year 'tweener Damon Bailey, the all-time Hoosier legend, spell Reggie.
The Pacers' 1994 first-round pick, Greg Minor, could have filled the holed, but he went to Boston as a free agent. Duane Ferrell was signed to back up McKey but went straight to Brown's doghouse. Now there's a crater behind KcKey since Sam Mitchell, relentless but limited, wasn't re-signed. So old-timer Eddie Johnson - fresh off a one-year stint in Greece - tries to fill the gap.
That means Antonio Davis, who missed nearly half the season with a herniated disk and rarely played with his rookie fervor, will agian be stuck playing out of position a backup center.
Haywood Workman, who defends like Brown wants but can't shoot or pass, is the backup playmaker. So the position resumes its annual shuffle, this time including first-round pick Travis Best, a shooter and creator from Georgia Tech, whose signing puts Walsh in double figures in point guards acquired over the past decade.
Intangibles: A Few Good Men
The Pacers' greatest strength has been their chemistry, and Walsh may have altered that winning dynamic. Departed veterans Scott, Mitchell, LaSalle Thompson, and Vern Fleming comprised the team's soul. Brown's favorite thing is developing young players, though young pros aren't always as receptive as college greshmen. So who will fill the leadership vacuum? Brown wants it most of all from Miller and Jackson. He maintaains Miller wants all of the trappings of celebrity but not the responsibility: Brown's saying it's time to walk the walk. At least Jackson can handle the coach's hounding. Brown may wear on players, but the consensus is he's up there with Pat Riley as the best coach in the NBA, and the team remains united behind him.
Lowdown: Maxed Out?
The Pacers blew their big chance. The window of opportunity cracked open when Michael went away and the Knicks got old, but now Michael is back and the Worm is with him - and the Magic have grown up.
A better year from the guards and improvement from Smits and the Davis boys makes this team really tough to beat. But realisticaly, the nucleus has maxed out; the Pacers need more cannons.
Guys to Watch:
Knick fans are still clinging to the fantasy that is Jackson had not been dealt, New York would have another banner hanging in the Garden. But Jackson didn't get the job done in a similar situation in Indiana last year. And he's a long way from his cocksure rookie season. There's a good chance that this is his last chance. And the Pacers go nowhere without him.
Indiana gets few easy baskets because the wings don't run and the backcourt can't press. That's why this team needs a commanding presence at the POINT who plays at both ends. Mark Jackson gives it another go, but if he's not the answer, this team will get a facelift.
The Pacers were second in the conference behind Orlando with a 33-8 home record. Brown's contract is ironclad. If he stays through it, it'll be his longest stay with any team (six years). And he'll probably stay, since he's patched it up with brother Herb, now an assistant coach.
When trailing at the start of fourth quarter last year, the Pacers rallied to win only three times. Miller's scoring average has declined four of the past five seasons, from 24.6 in 1989-90 to 19.6 last season. No Pacer draft choice has had an impact since Dale Davis was selected four years ago.
Also funny how they make it sound like Jax had one year left in Indy if we didn't do well, when in fact he had 4 (and it could have been longer if not for God ;) ).