Well for the most part I do. Seems he finally has a good handle on the pacers team.
Another good article.
Possibilities are endless, scary
Here's how I look at next season's Indiana Pacers.
They could win the NBA title.
Or they could fall completely to pieces, reveal themselves as the most combustible, immature team in the league and end up embarrassing themselves and their city.
Let me explain:
Even without Uncle Reggie gracing the roster, there's a ton of talent here, enough to make a serious run at a championship. So why does the prospect of an essentially unchanged roster scare me worse than a flop shot over a bunker?
Because without some strategic changes, the group that's returning has a chance to make an ugly mess of things.
First, there's the Ron Artest situation. By now, my feelings are well-known, and every time I publicly suggest he's a time bomb waiting to detonate, he makes me look prescient. The Pacers, though, seem to think he's a changed man, that they can count on him to be what he was before the suspension -- one of the top 10 players in the league.
To which I say: Good luck, fellas. Hope you're right.
Then there's Stephen Jackson, who generally played hard and nobly in the playoffs, although he lost his shooting touch in Game 6.
At times, there's a lot to like about Jackson -- his ruthlessness, his edge, the way he continued to exhort his teammates as they were being blown off the court in Games 4 and 5. He's not going to be Reggie Miller, but he has undeniable talent and will be able to return to the shooting guard spot next season after playing the small forward.
But then there are times when that manic edge takes him into dangerous territory. While we all like a guy who will support his teammates, Jackson has been too quick to join the fray fists first. How many times did he get yanked from the lineup, then return to the bench staring down coach Rick Carlisle? Too many.
He will be the first to admit it: His temper gets the best of him and he spends too much time verbally assaulting officials.
Self-realization is wonderful.
Just do something about it now.
And then there's Jamaal Tinsley, the player the Pacers should work hardest to trade.
Tinsley's got a few strikes against him.
First, there's his health, which is never good and has reduced him to a limping mess nearly every year in the playoffs. It's hard to say if it's conditioning or bad luck or both, but a team can't win consistently with its point guard soaking in the hot tub.
Second, his attitude. He loses his composure. He gets angry and decides to turn a team game into a battle of playground one-on-one. Or he engages in the time-honored NBA practice of sulking. A point guard has to be an extension of the coach, a leader. I see a player with some rare skills with Tinsley, but I don't see a leader.
Look at the NBA's remaining four. Steve Nash. Tony Parker. Chauncey Billups. Dwyane Wade. All of them can shoot. All of them can penetrate and make space for teammates. All of them are still healthy.
Somehow, some way, the Pacers need to upgrade there. And the only way that can happen is a trade.
Free agency? Forget it. The Pacers are already over the salary cap, in part because of some dubious signings by team chief executive Donnie Walsh. Believe it or not, Jonathan Bender and Austin Croshere are the second- and third-highest paid players on the roster.
Finally, there's Jermaine O'Neal, whom Miller keeps saying is the new face of the franchise.
Well, if he's going to lead, he's got to return to the form that earned him third place in the MVP voting last season. How badly was he hurt this season? And how much did Artest's absence force him to change his game? It's really impossible to say. But O'Neal must return next season as a better leader and, yes, as a better player, preferably one with more low-post moves at his disposal.
(Check out an old Kevin McHale video and take notes.)
Beyond the Big Four, the roster figures to remain essentially unchanged.
Bender, who they pray will be healthy someday, has two years left on his deal and no trade value.
Croshere, another guy with two years remaining, is virtually untradable.
Anthony Johnson is a keeper, a perfect backup point guard.
Fred Jones' option will be picked up, and there's reason to wonder if he might have the goods to eventually replace Miller instead of Jackson.
James Jones and Dale Davis, the team's only two free agents, should return.
Jeff Foster, who showed what a factor he could be when he stays healthy, is going nowhere.
The only player left with trade value is Scot Pollard, who's in the last year of his deal. At some point, he will want out -- who wants to play behind Foster and Davis? -- and somebody will want to grab him so that team can wipe his salary off the books for the following season. But you're not going to get an impact player for Pollard.
So there's not a lot the Pacers can do, but there's enough they can do, and must do, if they're going to ensure there won't be a repeat of this season. They don't need an extreme makeover. But a nip here, a tuck there, nobody would argue.
Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star. Call him at (317) 444-6643 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.