Pacers to give Artest tryout at power forward
New position: Ron Artest, who usually plays small forward for the Pacers, says he doesn't mind trying to play power forward. -- Sam Riche / The Star
By Mike Wells
The Indiana Pacers say they want forward Ron Artest to get used to playing in a team setting again after being suspended for most of last season.
They are also going to use him at power forward during their summer league, which starts Friday in Minneapolis. Artest has usually played small forward.
"Ronnie has played the 'four' some in the past, and it's something we'll look at in the future also," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "In summer league, you're always sizing down one position. The 'twos' play the 'three.' The 'threes' play the 'four' and so on. The only position that doesn't change is point guard."
Artest's strength and ability to score and defend in the post allow him to take on players who are several inches taller.
"They asked me to play some power forward and I said fine," Artest said. "I think Mark Aguirre and Charles Barkley did it. Most of the power forwards in the NBA, as far as weight, I'm right up there with them. I wouldn't mind playing it if I have to."
Although it has been against lesser talent, Artest has had success at power forward during the team's rookie/free agent camp this week. The Pacers hope to use him, there at times next season when they go with a small lineup.
"Ron and David Harrison have worked well together in practice," said Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke, who is coaching the summer league team with fellow assistant Chuck Person.
"We hope to carry that into the regular season with Ron and Jermaine (O'Neal) playing together. That will give us a more versatile lineup on the court. Now is the time to find out if it can work."
Working with the rookie
Burke and Person may be coaching the summer league team, but Carlisle is doing some coaching himself.
Carlisle spends time after practice working with rookie Danny Granger, usually long after other players have departed.
"I do it during the season, too, but that's something I do a lot of in the summer," Carlisle said.
Granger isn't playing in the summer league because of a knee injury that hasn't completely healed, but Carlisle puts the 17th pick in last month's draft through non-contact fundamental drills.
"I'm getting a good feel for Danny's skill level and working on different things," Carlisle said. "He's a guy that's very skilled and he's been picking things up very quickly."
Bender will play
Forward Jonathan Bender, who is trying to work his way back from two injury-filled seasons, is expected to play in the Pacers' last two summer league games. Bender isn't taking part in the rookie/free agent camp at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Before anyone else says it, it must mean the Pacers are thinking of trading JO. Of course I think that is balderdash! Unless it's for Garnett.