I feel that the Pacers are nearly there and that Artest ( because of what he means offensively and defensively to the team and how that changes the way the team plays ) would make enough of a difference to make the Pacers far more competitive against the "elite" teams like the Pistons, Spurs and the Heat.
I don't feel that its a problem with mental toughness as the Pacer roster was able to outlast other teams and make it to the 2nd round of the Playoffs despite all the problems that they encountered this year. But unlike many other Pacer fans.....I do not feel that Artest ( assuming...and thats a BIG ASSUMPTION...that he doesn't make as much "noise" as this last season ) is the "root of all the evil" that resides woes of the Pacer Fans. We arecognize that the lack of durability and health of the Pacers roster at each of the position seems to catch up to us at the worst time each year....towards the end of the season and during the Playoffs.
The question is how we address the durability and overall health of the Pacers starters and backup players.
Either by becoming a "Catagory 1" follower by making internal changes ( such as working on better player conditioning ), coaching adjustments ( and make smarter adjustment in playing time and roster rotations ), and pray that this helps in the long run.
Follow the "Catagory 2" belief and get the players that the Pacer's organization feels would make the difference. But if that happens, it will likely mean that at least 2 of the "Big 4" of JONeal/Tinsley/Artest/SJax ( likely Artest and Tinsley ) along with solid backups like JJ/AJ/Foster/DDavis would have to be packaged to get the type of players that would change the team.
I am a "Catagory 1" Pacer fan with a helping of "Catagory 2" mixed in. I think we are nearly there....we just have to figure out a way to address the injury bug issue ( especially with JONeal and Tinsley ).
If a start HAD to be made ( in terms of roster change ) it should be made with Tinsley...either by figuring out a way to decrease his chances of getting injured ( either through conditioning and making adjustments to his playing time ) or by trading him ( along with others ) for another PG.
But since it appears that it would be difficult to even slightly upgrade at the PG spot without losing either SJax, or Artest....I am in favor of keeping the roster as is ( if possible ) and see what happens. Just like I am willing to put another season on the line by keeping Artest, we should probably do the same for Tinsley. But just like Artest...if the right deal comes along for Tinsley ( or Artest for that matter ), the Pacers would be foolish not to make such a move.