Question: The Pacers' season has just ended and I'm already looking forward to next year. Point guard is a need position due to Jamaal Tinsley's inability to stay healthy. From what I've read, Jay Williams' rehab seems to be going well and he hopes to be on a roster next season.
Do the Pacers have any interest in this former second overall pick in the draft? If he is healthy he could really help the Pacer get up and down the floor next year. (Steve from Zionsville, Ind.)
Answer: Funny you should ask. I just got off the phone with a representative of Williams about an hour ago and he said the Pacers have shown interest. I'll be going to Chicago for the pre-draft camp this week and will try to connect with Williams. He seems a natural fit for the Pacers, but also for other teams. There could be a mini-bidding war for his contract if he proves he's recovered from the injuries suffered in his motorcycle accident.
Question: Looking at the upcoming draft, there has been one person that should be around when the Pacers use their 17th pick that has caught my eye: Rudy Fernandez from Spain. What do you think of his fit with the Pacers (versatility as a shooting guard/point guard) and the chances of the Pacers drafting him, even though it might require a buyout of his contract with Barcelona? (David from Carrollton, Texas)
Answer: My early, off-the-cuff prediction is that the Pacers will draft a European player, most likely a guard. Fernandez fits that description perfectly. He's 20 years old, and at 6-5 is regarded as a combo guard.
He's said to be athletic, intelligent and a solid defender. He needs to get stronger, but that would be true for every 20-year-old NBA prospect. I don't know what it would take to buy out his contract, but a team could always let him stay in Europe for another year or two.
Question: With you writing that the Pacers gave Reggie Miller a three-year contract to stay under the luxury tax threshold, can you tell me how much in the last two years has been paid to the NBA in luxury tax? I know we could not afford to keep Brad Miller because of that tax -- that is the stance the Pacers made.
So, assuming we had signed Reggie to a two-year contract at the same amount that we signed him for in his three-year contract and we signed Brad Miller to the contract that he has with Sacramento, how much, in the last two seasons, would we have paid in luxury tax, and what team has paid the most as a team in luxury tax in the last two years? (Rich from Westfield, Ind.)
Answer: I don't know how much the NBA has collected in luxury tax revenues, but it's a lot. A whole lot. Or, as Shaq would say, a whole lotta lotta lot. The Knicks and Dallas have paid the most in luxury tax penalties. I don't have exact figures, but I would estimate they both paid roughly $35 million a year ago. It doesn't appear there will be a tax for this past season, however, because of the league's basketball-related revenues.
As for the Pacers, if they had signed R. Miller to a two-year deal and kept B. Miller, I estimate they would have paid $5-6 million in tax penalties a year ago. Again, however, there might not be a tax this year.
Question: With Chuck Person taking over on the bench do you think that will give way to Sam Perkins coming in and becoming a special assistant? I'd love to see Smooth work for the Pacers. I think it speaks hugely that of the teams he played for the Pacers are the one he wants to work for. (Curtis from Fishers, Ind.)
Answer: I wouldn't be surprised to see Perkins working for the Pacers someday. He told me during the playoff series with Boston that he'd like to do so. I asked Larry Bird about it and he has interest, but he had no positions available at the time.
I don't know if Person's move to the bench will open one, but it's always possible. If the Pacers really want to hire him they can always create a position. Maybe Perkins can be the coach in charge of flat-footed 3-pointers, huh?
Question: With Memphis getting ready to release Bonzi Wells, is there any chance the Pacers would try to sign him with the mid-level exception? His stock has dropped, but maybe a return to Indiana and the discipline of Larry Bird and Rick Carlisle is what he needs. But with Ron Artest, would another player with discipline issues be too much? (Jason from Summitville, Ind.)
Answer: I don't expect the Pacers to pursue Wells. They don't have room for him on the roster if they re-sign Dale Davis and James Jones, unless they make a trade that opens a spot. They also don't have a great need for another player at his position of shooting guard/small forward.
Wells is close with Jermaine O'Neal from their days together in Portland and went to the Pacers' locker room to visit with O'Neal after the Pacers last played there. He's also got ample talent. But I don't see the Pacers having great interest in him. He's had problems with the coaches in Portland and Memphis, and was told to stay home during the playoffs this season.
Question: I had a real quick question regarding Reggie Miller's future induction into the Hall of Fame. If the Pacers pay him for this upcoming season and if he is not officially retired, does that push his earliest possible Hall of Fame induction back a year? (Ben from Bellevue, Neb.)
Answer: This is a good question. I don't believe it will affect Miller's induction if he receives that honor, though. The Hall of Fame's rule is that "a player must be fully retired for five years before being eligible for Enshrinement. Should a player come out of retirement for a short period of time ... his/her case and eligibility for Enshrinement shall be reviewed on an individual basis."
That leads me to believe the Hall would have the discretion of deciding Miller's case, and since he isn't likely to play next season, he can get in five years from now regardless of whether he gets paid next season.
Question: How did the Indiana Pacers get the name "Pacers"? What is the history or origin of that name? (K. from Indianapolis)
Answer: The widespread assumption is that it relates to the pace cars at the Indianapolis 500. It's really more connected with harness racing, however. A "pacer" is a harness racing horse, and that sport once was popular at the State Fairgrounds where the Pacers first played (in what is now the Pepsi Coliseum). The pace car connection was an added bonus link, really.
You didn't ask, but their colors are blue and gold because those are the state of Indiana's official colors. Also, some of the founders of the franchise were Notre Dame grads, and those are the university's colors as well.
That's one thing that's puzzled me, though. If the Pacers' colors are blue and gold, why are their uniforms yellow? Gold seems to be a tricky color; you see a lot of variations of it in uniforms. Purdue, for example, has had about a dozen versions of gold in its uniforms over the last 25 years.
Question: I love reading your column, and first want to thank you for taking the time to answer and research everyone's questions. With the obvious majority of basketball fans really taking to Reggie Miller, do you think the NBA will be putting out a highlight video of Reggie like they have done with MJ?
I think it only makes perfect business sense to do so, seeing as how the NBA owns all the footage of Reggie's remarkable and historic feats. (James from Richmond, Ind.)
Answer: You did such a good job of sucking up to me that I called the NBA on your behalf and was told they have no plans at this time for a Reggie Miller video. It seems like a good idea, however. He provided plenty of highlights in his 18 seasons. Perhaps they'll do one later.