How will Bench Look Next Season?
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Brunoemail@example.com. Brunnerís opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.
OF THE DAY
Q. What does the bench look like next year? Who is going to come off the bench first? With Dale Davis on the roster, what will (David) Harrisonís role be? Is there any possibility (Jonathan) Bender might give us some minutes next season? Do you think Fred Jonesí minutes will increase, and do you think thereís any possibility for him to move into the starting lineup in front of Stephen Jackson? Is there any hope for James Jonesí defensive game improving enough for him to give us solid minutes? (Rafe in Indianapolis)
A. The bench rotation will depend upon a number of variables, making it hard to lock into anything at the moment. How well certain players come back from injuries will be a major factor.
At times last season, Harrison looked like a potential force in the low post, particularly on offense. Though his knee injury was not major, he'll need to bounce back from surgery, regain his conditioning and re-establish his readiness to contribute. Bender has missed most of the past two seasons, primarily with knee problems that just don't seem to go away. If he does get to the point that he can play regularly, he has the talent to assume a big role. Jeff Foster finished last season as a reserve and may need follow-up surgery on his troublesome hip.
Much also depends on the status of free agent Davis. If he re-signs, it's safe to assume he'll play a major role in the post rotation. That means a lot of competition for minutes with Foster, Harrison and Scot Pollard, which is why a number of analysts are expecting the Pacers to make some kind of move with their deep corps of big men in order to balance out the roster.
There is less uncertainty in the backcourt, where Anthony Johnson and Eddie Gill will back up Jamaal Tinsley, and Fred Jones is behind Stephen Jackson. The team could use a little more depth, providing fuel for speculation about offseason moves. At small forward, Ron Artest's return to the lineup and Jackson's shift to shooting guard opens up a reserve role. At the moment, James Jones is the top backup, but he's a restricted free agent.
In other words, there are a lot of possibilities and little certainty about the second unit. The draft will add two players to the mix, a free agent could be signed and there exists a strong possibility the team will make a move or two on the trade market. Those moves are most likely to involve the bench because management isn't anxious to break up the nucleus of starters.
I thought the last part is interesting. Maybe management wants to try out this starting five for once and make trades before the deadline if needed.