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Thread: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

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    Default Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/colum...=2064570&num=0

    Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford
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    The Pacers and Sonics were both eliminated last night after shocking most of the NBA world this season. The Pacers for what they didn't do (thanks to suspensions and injuries). The Sonics for what they did (Insider picked them to finish last in the West).

    Next year it should be a completely different story for both teams.

    Pacers fans, whether you were disappointed or inspired by your team's roller coaster season, take heart. Next season Indiana should be the team to beat in the NBA -- even if Reggie Miller sticks to his retirement plans.

    Barring another season of suspensions and injuries, the Pacers should have all the requisite ingredients for a champion coming into next season:

    A great big man: Jermaine O'Neal continues to transform himself into a legit MVP candidate. Despite a season full with injuries, he posted his best PER (player efficiency rating) of his career. The key for O'Neal next year will be trusting his teammates. With a crippled supporting cast, O'Neal hogged the ball in the post at an unprecedented rate. If he can spread the love a little more, he'll be even more dangerous.

    An excellent point guard: Jamaal Tinsley took a big step this year and, when healthy, was one of the five or six best point guards in the league this year. His PER rating of 19.02 was, by far the highest of his career. He almost doubled his scoring output and he's turned into an excellent defender. The Pacers quietly signed him to a modest extension last fall. It turned out to be an excellent move.

    Fantastic depth: Guys like Stephen Jackson, Jeff Foster, Fred Jones and youngsters David Harrison and James Jones stepped up huge in the absence of many of the teams elite players this season. If Jonathan Bender can ever get healthy, they'll be as deep as any team in the East.

    One of the best head coaches in the game: If you had any question about Rick Carlisle's chops, they were answered this season. Higher-profile guys like Larry Brown and Phil Jackson always get the love, but no one has done more with less than Carlisle has done the last four seasons. He found a way to get everyone in the team to buy into his system this year. The team bonded in a way that few teams ever do. If he can get that to carry over into next season, that cohesiveness will put them on par with what the Pistons have been doing in Detroit.

    Ron Artest: From the sound of things, the Pacers have no intention of dumping Ron this summer. According to Carlisle and his teammates, Ron has regained his passion for the game (they have to get pounded by him in practice everyday) while gaining some much needed perspective and maturity over the past year. Everyone from Carlisle to O'Neal have raved about the changes Artest has made both on and off the court. If he can keep that focus through the summer, we could see a rested, hungry and in control Ron Artest for the first time ever. As Carlisle said Thursday night about Artest's return, "That'll be like having a lottery pick delivered to you."

    The motivation: Everyone from Larry Bird to the ball boy thought this was the Pacers' year. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. Still, they persevered and turned one of the league's most demoralizing stories into an inspirational one. Next season the team will be as focused, determined and hungry as any team in the league. On November 19th, the night of the infamous brawl, the Pacers looked like they could whip the Pistons in a seven game series. With almost everyone coming back and huge chip on their shoulders, look for them to ride roughshod through the East and the West next season.

    The Sonics are a different story entirely. The team has a whopping eight players hitting the free agent market this summer. Nate McMillan's contract is up. So is GM Rick Sund's.

    To make matters worse, the Sonics are having a ton of financial trouble right now which is tied directly to bad lease they signed with Key Arena in 1995. Even with the success they had this season, the Sonics are estimating that they'll lose $17.8 million dollars this season. When you consider that their payroll stood at about $54.5 million (about six million under the average for the league) and won't be paying a luxury tax  that's shocking.

    That means that ownership has a very tough decision this summer. They could spend the money to re-sign all of their free agents if they want  but it would mean losing a huge amount of cash again next season. Or, they can cut payroll, try to save some money, and watch the team sink back down into the lottery.

    At this point, nothing is certain in Seattle.

    For starters, McMillan, who finished third in coach of the year voting, is going to get serious interest around the league from a number of teams including the Knicks, Timberwolves, Magic and possibly the Cavs. While Nate has strong ties to Seattle, will he bolt knowing that ownership might not be able to afford to field a winning team next year? Or will he leave because management didn't think enough of him this fall to work out an extension.

    The free agency situation isn't much better.

    Ray Allen, Antonio Davis, Jerome James, Vladimir Radmanovic, Reggie Evans, Damien Wilkins, Ronald Murray and Vitaly Potapenko are all free agents.

    Allen and Daniels reportedly would like to bolt. Given that the Sonics don't want to break the bank with either guy, the chances that they leave are pretty high. Allen tried to work out an extension with the team throughout the season and is frustrated with what the Sonics are offering. The truth is that Allen will have a hard time getting his asking price anywhere in the league. Most of the teams that are under the cap are bad, and won't want to spend the bulk of their money on a 30-year-old two guard regardless of how well he played this year. The Cavs and the Clippers are really the only two teams that might spend the money, but they both have higher priorities.

    Daniels is also an unrestricted free agent and will likely get his salary doubled next year. The Sonics could afford to offer him more, but they're ready to hand the point guard duties to Luke Ridnour full time, and can't afford such an expensive backup. The opportunity to start on a good time like the Cavs, Rockets, Lakers or Jazz should be enough to convince him to leave.

    I don't see them re-signing James. He's been impressive in the playoffs, but it's the equivalent to a deathbed confession  I'm not sure how sincere it really is. Despite James' lack of production the past few years, someone is going to make him a pretty big offer based on his performance in the playoffs. I think the Sonics will be too risk adverse to spend that type of money knowing what they know about him.

    They'll probably keep Radmanovic because he's a restricted free agent and no one is likely to make him a huge offer. While Radmanovic will generate a lot of interest around the league, it would take a starting salary of six to seven million before the Sonics wouldn't match. Right now, it looks like all the teams with cap room have higher priorities.

    The same may hold true for Flip Murray, especially if Allen bolts.

    Wilkins has been great for them in a reserve role this season and had several big games in the playoffs versus the Spurs. Wilkins is a restricted free agent this summer and the Sonics will likely keep him as long as he doesn't get an outrageous offer.

    Evans is another difficult one to call. He gives them toughness and energy in the paint. That's been a big key for the Sonics this season. They do have Nick Collison and Danny Fortson to help clean the glass. But of the three, Evans is the best rebounder of the group. In fact his rebound rate this season (which is minute sensitive) was the best in the league. He's going to get a lot of interest from other teams desperate for some low post toughness next year and should command a big raise from the $880,000 he makes this year.

    Where does that leave the Sonics?

    If they pass on re-signing Allen, James, Potapenko and Evans, they could re-sign Radmanovic, Murray and Wilkins and still have enough in the bank to make a big offer to a younger big man like Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert or Eddy Curry.

    A combo of Rashard Lewis, Ridnour and either Chandler, Dalembert and Curry would form a very nice young core. If younger players like Robert Swift, Collison, Radmanvic, Murray and Wilkins continue to develop the Sonics might not be a playoff team overnight, but they could have a bright future.

    If they use up all of their money re-signing Allen, James, Daniels, Radmanovic and Evans however, the Sonics could field close to the same team they did this season. However, they'd lose a little depth, have a tough cap position for the future and still probably aren't more than a team that can get to the second round.


    Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Yay, good article.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Well, that was certainly heartening.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by drewdawg
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    Ray Allen, Antonio Davis, Jerome James, Vladimir Radmanovic, Reggie Evans, Damien Wilkins, Ronald Murray and Vitaly Potapenko are all free agents.

    hmmmmm

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    I think AD is signed through next year.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar
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    I think AD is signed through next year.
    The point is he doesn't play for the Sonics. He means Daniels, not Davis.
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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    I'd love to get Daniels

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    that's the second article by ford in the past month that i've enjoyed

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by drewdawg
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    Ron Artest: From the sound of things, the Pacers have no intention of dumping Ron this summer. According to Carlisle and his teammates, Ron has regained his passion for the game (they have to get pounded by him in practice everyday) while gaining some much needed perspective and maturity over the past year. Everyone from Carlisle to O'Neal have raved about the changes Artest has made both on and off the court. If he can keep that focus through the summer, we could see a rested, hungry and in control Ron Artest for the first time ever. As Carlisle said Thursday night about Artest's return, "That'll be like having a lottery pick delivered to you."

    Interesting and encouraging.

    I have a general question. What does taking a year off do for a 25 year old NBA pl;ayer. Does it help them, does it make them rusty. Does it add another year onto their careers

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Ray Allen available. hmmmmm

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Ray Allen available. hmmmmm
    For the max.

    Otherwise, I agree totally.
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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Ray Allen available= $$$$$$$$$$$ we don't have without destroying out core.


    I would rather be the hammer than the nail

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    It's a nice article and sums up what I said about Jermaine, only in less harsh words.

    And you guys mostly bashed me for saying it!

    I'm freakin incredible!!!

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck
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    Interesting and encouraging.

    I have a general question. What does taking a year off do for a 25 year old NBA pl;ayer. Does it help them, does it make them rusty. Does it add another year onto their careers

    I look at it like it's a season ending injury, without the rehab.

    It might take a little off his game at first but with Ron I don't see it as being that big an issue one way or another.

    As for adding another year to your career, no. The body is gonna start giving out at a certain point in the aging cycle whether you play every year or miss a season or two.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Alabama-Redneck
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    Ray Allen available= $$$$$$$$$$$ we don't have without destroying out core.


    Artest/Pollard/Bender wouldn't get it done?

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck
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    I'd love to get Daniels
    Me too. Maybe a sign and trade for Pollard and something else?
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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Artest/Pollard/Bender wouldn't get it done?
    Not worth it
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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Mourning
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    Not worth it
    Is to me.

    3 guys that didn't play for a STAR 2 guard and the outside shot we are going to be D E S P E R A T E for post-Reg.

    Tinsley
    Allen
    Jackson
    Jermaine
    Hulk/Foster/DD
    is a lineup that'd get you in the finals. JJ,FJ,Foster,AJ off the bench.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    A star guard at 30 who will be commanding the max for a long running contract? No thank you!

    I think Ron is better alone than Ray. And don't come to me with that "Ron didn't play this season"-stuff we all know that. I'm more than willing to take my chance on Ron for next season. Ron is a "S T A R" too.

    Besides, who do we play at SF fulltime than? SJax is a natural SG who CAN play SF, but fulltime, no thank you. JJ is good, but in my view not yet ready for fulltime duty at SF IF we can re-sign him.
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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Is to me.

    3 guys that didn't play for a STAR 2 guard and the outside shot we are going to be D E S P E R A T E for post-Reg.

    Tinsley
    Allen
    Jackson
    Jermaine
    Hulk/Foster/DD
    is a finals lineup.
    What's the difference between this lineup and the team we had this past season?

    What's going to be different having Ray Allen instead of Reggie? Allen's production would surely go down playing alongside Jermaine and Jackson. He'd probably be the second option to Jermaine, just because of the way Jermaine plays the game. As much as I like Ray Allen, I don't see that being a championship lineup. I'd rather have Ron who brings it on both ends of the court. Yes, we would use the outside shooting, but it's not worth giving up the defensive player of the year.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Don't forget Ron's fg percentages before he was suspended, I know it was only nine games, but it really looked like he'd improved a lot....plus he's had a lot more time to improve his jumpshot over the past year.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Artest/Pollard/Bender wouldn't get it done?
    I guess it is the off-season, isn't it? I love sweet baby Ray's game as much as the next guy but, the asking price is so high that it alone scares the hell out of me.

    Not that I would want any move right now, I would rather offer Milwaukee the huge bounty for Redd instead of having to pay 6 years for a guy that will be on the decline sooner then later. Both players would take an expensive trade to get, and offering Artest with 2 Hefty bags of trash will just get you laughed at in the great Northwest. I'm sure they would rather let Allen walk then take a guy that has to prove that he is not a headcase and out trash.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Fig Newton
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    It's a nice article and sums up what I said about Jermaine, only in less harsh words.

    And you guys mostly bashed me for saying it!

    I'm freakin incredible!!!
    Yep, Incredible for thinking your rant about JO compares to Ford's article in any way shape or form.

    Ford wrote "A great big man: Jermaine O'Neal continues to transform himself into a legit MVP candidate. Despite a season full with injuries, he posted his best PER (player efficiency rating) of his career."

    Fig Newton said "Has there ever been a more overrated player in the NBA"
    "Just look at the flowers ........ BANG"

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by Mourning
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    A star guard at 30 who will be commanding the max for a long running contract? No thank you!

    I think Ron is better alone than Ray. And don't come to me with that "Ron didn't play this season"-stuff we all know that. I'm more than willing to take my chance on Ron for next season. Ron is a "S T A R" too.

    Besides, who do we play at SF fulltime than? SJax is a natural SG who CAN play SF, but fulltime, no thank you. JJ is good, but in my view not yet ready for fulltime duty at SF IF we can re-sign him.
    I think Ron is a better player then Ray Allen as well but again with Ron Artest there are alot of things to consider with him and if walsh and Bird think its time to move on its going to be hard to find a player as good as Allen is. I also think Allen may be a better fit for this team, considering we lack guys who can shoot the ball, create off the dribble, and take over games from the perimeter. Allen takes care of all that plus hes become a tremendous all around player. He'll grab 5bds and 5assists a night.


    Adding Ray Allen would give us in my oppinion the deadliest inside out combo in the league. The type of combo that can get past the Pistons. I know hes 30 which means he's in his prime and hes going to command a max contract which might scare some, but hes worth it. Hes best pure 2 guard in the league and he'll still be at the top of his game for for at least 3-4 more years.


    I do agree with you though If Allen is here, Jackson would not fit in well at the three spot would either come off the bench and become a 6th man which I believe is his best role or be trade bait for an tough rugged defensive minded smallforward. Maybe somebody like Matt harpring. Freddy Jones could also be used as trade bait if we decide to keep Jackson in this scenerio.

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    Default Re: Pacers, Sonics on different paths for next seasonBy Chad Ford

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Artest/Pollard/Bender wouldn't get it done?
    We don't need to make that trade and the Sonics wouldn't do it any way.

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