Mark Montieth: Pacers Q&A
June 28, 2005

Question: With the clause in the new collective-bargaining agreement that allows teams to waive one player without counting against the luxury tax, do you see the Pacers using it on a player such as Austin Croshere? (Billy from Omaha, Neb.)

Answer: I believe this is a possibility. As you know, teams can now waive a player and avoid having that salary count against their luxury tax penalty, although they still would have to pay the salary.

The Pacers could very well surpass the luxury tax threshold next season as they continue to pay Reggie Miller, re-sign Dale Davis and attempt to add another player or two. One way to lighten or eliminate their tax would be to waive Croshere.

That would be an awfully unpleasant act for everyone involved, but it's part of the new reality. Nobody from the Pacers has told me that's going to happen, but it seems a reasonable possibility.

Another option would be to waive Reggie Miller, but Croshere has two years remaining on his contract and Miller has one, so the Pacers would get greater relief from waiving Croshere.

The team will need to go through the free agency period and get a firmer grasp on its roster for next season before making this kind of decision, however.

Question: Do the Pacers have trouble attracting players? On and off we hear rumors of many highly regarded players (currently Michael Redd among them) considering the Pacers as an option, but it seems that these rumors rarely pan out.

Last summer I thought that Erick Dampier was a lock to come to Indy since he wanted to win and is close with Jermaine O'Neal, but it seems that that consideration fell by the wayside.

Certainly we have our superstars set in Ronnie and Jermaine, but what about the solid Robert Horry-like veterans around the league, and some of the younger hungry players drowning in places like New York, Atlanta, and Orlando? Does Indy's lack of exciting South Beach-style nightlife turn players off when considering coming to the Pacers? (Andrew from Bloomington, Ind.)

Answer: The Pacers have rarely been a serious player in the free agent marketplace because they've rarely had a need or room for one. You hear rumors about players having interest in them, but those mostly come from agents trying to drum up interest around the league and create the impression of a strong marketplace for their client.

The Pacers are usually viewed as a contending team and the franchise has a solid reputation. Therefore, a lot of players have interest in playing for them. But that doesn't mean it's always feasible.

A player such as Redd, for example, wants a maximum-level contract, or something close to it. The Pacers would have to work a sign-and-trade to get him, and that would be difficult to do. Dampier wanted to play for them, and the Pacers talked with Golden State about a sign-and-trade. But ultimately the Pacers weren't willing to pay him nearly as much as Dallas did.

Given the way Dampier played last season, that appears to have been a wise decision. You can't build a contender by giving $70 million contracts to someone who averages 7.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, as Dampier did last season.

The Pacers' location and climate might be somewhat of a handicap, but I don't think it's a major one. It usually comes down to money. The only team that really has a built-in advantage in my opinion is the Lakers. Perhaps Miami, too.

As long as the Pacers are over the salary cap, however, they aren't going to be in position to sign a major free agent, so it wouldn't matter if they were playing in paradise -- wherever that is.

Question: What players have the Pacers brought in for individual workouts for the draft? (Ryan from Shelbyville, Ind.)

Answer: Danny Granger, Matt Walsh, Kennedy Winston, Bracey Wright, Julian Hodge, Shawn Banks, Chris Taft, Francisco Garcia, Ryan Gomes, Ike Diogu, Wayne Simien, Luther Head, Robert Rothbart, Roger Powell and David Logan were brought in.

Obviously some of those players, such as Wright, Rothbart, Logan and Powell, were viewed as potential second-round picks. I know they brought in at least a couple of other second-round candidates, but I'm not clear on their names.

Question: Will the changes in the labor agreement have any impact upon the Pacers? Does it give them more room to sign a veteran free agent without paying the luxury tax? Will it allow them to hold on to John Edwards and assign him to the Development League without using up a roster spot? Will it make younger players more attractive in the draft? (Frank from Indianapolis)

Answer: Man, the questions are good this week. I was hoping to skate through this group and go work out, but now I might run out of time. Consider yourselves blamed for my lack of conditioning.

I don't see the new rules having a great impact on the Pacers, but this is something we can explore in greater detail after the draft. I don't think the new agreement will affect their approach to the draft, however. Larry Bird seems to be in a win-now mode and most interested in players who can offer immediate help. That doesn't mean he wouldn't change his mind if the right player dropped to them.

The raising of the salary cap doesn't affect them because they're over it anyway. I don't believe the changes in the luxury tax will have much impact, either, although it might give them a little more freedom, or motivation, to sign a player to a mid-level exception contract. It might be difficult for them to find a player who fits into that salary level who could help them, however. Last year, remember, some pretty average players were signed to mid-level contracts.

The new agreement allows teams to assign players (such as Edwards) who are in their first two years in the NBA to an NBDL team. That could be an avenue for Edwards, who needs playing time badly but isn't likely to get it with the Pacers.

Question: Can the Pacers draft Greg Oden regardless if he is not part of the upcoming draft, but have hopes of signing him later? I'm thinking of the Boston Celtics and how they drafted Larry Bird his junior year at ISU, even though he wasn't a part of that draft. Is this feasible? (Bob from Indianapolis)

Answer: No. A player does not become eligible to be drafted until he meets the requirements (which now include being 19 years old) and has filed for entry to the draft. Boston was able to draft Bird because, although he still had a year of eligibility at Indiana State, he was four years removed from high school and his original college class had become eligible for the draft.

Bird, remember, sat out a year after leaving Indiana. Therefore, he was classified the same as a college senior that year. It was one of Red Auerbach's better moves, to say the least.

Question: First, thanks for all of the great work you do for your readers with the Pacers and the NBA. I had a quick question about the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. I saw that the active rosters were increased from 12 to 14 players. Does this mean the maximum number of players on any one team has increased to 17? Or will it remain at 15? (Chris from Fishers, Ind.)

Answer: It is my understanding that rosters still can not exceed 15 players. The minimum was raised to create more jobs (although most teams carried more than 12 anyway) and improve continuity in case of injuries. The Pacers, however, have always carried more than 12 players on their roster, so this should not affect them.

Question: Can you translate for the regular fan how the new NBA agreement is going to make it easier for teams to make trades now with 125 percent of salary, base-year rules, etc. Do you think it will make trades easier to do? (Steve from Santa Ana, Calif.)

Answer: Previously, the salaries of players traded for one another had to match within 115 percent of one another, plus $100,000. Now that the percentage has been increased to 125 percent, more trade options are available to teams.

Other rules have been relaxed a bit, too, but I must admit I haven't had a chance to study the new agreement closely enough to give details. All the stories I've seen have only referred to them in general terms.

Question: I saw in your mock draft in the Sunday paper that you didn't project Roko Ukic in the first round. If this holds true, would it be possible for the Pacers to trade up in the second round to take him? Have the Pacers expressed any interest in Ukic? (Andrew from Bloomington, Ind.)

Answer: Ukic is certainly a player who could go in the first round, and it was difficult to leave him out. Doing that mock draft, it became apparent how deep it is. There are others who appear to be legit first-round candidates that I couldn't squeeze in -- Chris Taft, for example.

I don't believe the Pacers brought Ukic in for a workout, but that doesn't mean they haven't scouted him. If he were available early in the second round, it's not out of the question for them to take a shot at him. They do have three point guards under contract, however, so they would have to find a way to move one if they take on another.