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Question: What's Reggie been up to since the season has ended? Any news on what he may be doing next season? I hope he will be on either TNT or ESPN. Also-Just thought I would give you a Haywoode Workman update. I remember reading a story in the Star a few years ago about him trying to become a NBA referee. He is a referee in the NBDL right now. He was with a group of 10 NBDL referees the NBA brought out to work the National Pro AM Tournament in Las Vegas in April.
Answer: Reggie's been involved with the movie his company is co-producing (Beautiful Ohio), but other than that hasn't been up to much as far as I know. I heard him on Dan Patrick's radio show on ESPN this week, and I'm sure he'll pop up on radio or television from time to time. He would like to be involved in TNT or ESPN broadcast's next season, and I expect that he will. He told me he's most interested in studio work with TNT, doing what Charles Barkley does -- talking trash to the whole league. (Tim from Falls Church, Va.)
It's good to hear that Workman is still trying to become a referee. The more ex-players working as referees the better as far as I'm concerned. There aren't many, though, in either college or the NBA. Former Purdue guard Tony Jones is refereeing small college games and wants to work in the Big Ten, but I'm not aware of other recent major college players doing the same.
Question: This is a "life of the reporter" question rather than strictly basketball-related. When I read Bob Kravitz's consistent demand that Ron Artest be traded, I always wonder what it is like personally with regard to the players and the press. I would think it would be really hard to write a column saying, essentially, that a player is a net negative for the franchise, and then go look him in the eye the same day. Similarly, if I were in Artests's position, I would not be terribly well-disposed toward answering any of Kravitz's questions when I saw him. Though Kravitz's columns are an extreme example, in general a columnist or reporter is only doing his/her job in occasionally criticizing, even harshly, a player. My question, then, is about interpersonal tension between players and the press. Does it exist at all, or does everyone understand that its "just part of the game?" (Mike from Austin, Tex.)
Answer: It varies, depending on the players or coaches involved and the degree of criticism. Artest, for example, has never reacted harshly to criticism. He answers every question from every reporter. I know he reads the paper based on my previous conversations with him, but he takes a mature attitude toward it. I've never heard him complain about something that was written or said about him. He's even been cooperative with ESPN, which once published a bogus rumor that he had gotten into a fight at the All-Star game in Atlanta three seasons ago, and has published and broadcast plenty of negative commentary -- some of which has contained inaccuracies.
Others are thin-skinned, and react to the slightest hint of criticism. In those cases a player might refuse to answers questions from a particular reporter. In extreme examples they will refuse all contact with the media. In my nine years covering the Pacers, however, that's rarely happened. Reggie Miller often tried to avoid reporters after practices last season, but that wasn't in response to anything written or said about him. Derrick McKey went through stretches where he didn't want to talk with reporters, and others have done the same thing briefly. Sometimes guys just don't like to be interviewed, particularly after a frustrating game.
Generally, NBA athletes and coaches maintain a professional approach to the media. They understand criticism is part of the game, and they've heard and read so much of it regarding other people while growing up that it doesn't faze them much. The league sets up guidelines for them to be available at certain times, and only "star" players such as Miller are given consistent exemptions from them.
Larry Bird, on the other hand, welcomed criticism while he coached the Pacers. He thought criticism helped prevent the players from becoming complacent, and kept them on edge a little bit. He even encouraged media members to go after him. That was hard to do, however, given the team's success during his three-year run.
Question: With Artest back in the news, I was wondering if you saw this article from the Detroit News after one of the Pacers/Pistons playoff games and why it didn't receive local coverage?
"The Pistons were still shaking their heads at what happened Thursday night as they were on their bus inside the loading-dock area of Conseco Fieldhouse.
"It was between 11:30 and midnight and the Pistons' bus was about to leave the arena for the airport.
"Suddenly, a dark Escalade roared into the loading dock, nearly hitting several people.
"Out jumped Ron Artest, the Pacers forward who got a season long suspension for his part in the Nov. 19 brawl.
"According to Pistons players on the bus, Artest was wearing an old (and short) pair of shorts. He had no shoes on and, upon getting out of the vehicle, he tore off his T-shirt.
"Given the history between Artest and the Pistons, the team's security officials were on high alert. But Artest made no motion "toward the bus. He simply walked, bare-chested and bare-footed, into the building, presumably for a midnight workout.
" "There's something going on there," Ben Wallace said, not wanting to comment further. " (Tim from Indianapolis)
Answer: We were well aware of that, and checked into it. We spoke with a reporter from the Detroit News, who indicated he had been in the area and saw nothing unusual. We also asked Artest and Pacers officials about it, and received no indication anything newsworthy had happened. Artest was asked about it again on Monday, when he met with the Indianapolis media, and said nothing had happened.
He was indeed returning to the fieldhouse as the Pistons were boarding their bus after the final game, to meet with the players and to work out. The report is awfully second- and third-hand to be reported responsibly, and doesn't include anything of real news value. Who cares what he was wearing? And somebody would need to go on record as saying he was driving irresponsibly before it could be reported. All in all it didn't seem like a big deal.
Question: If a restricted free agent gets an offer from another organization and his team doesn't match the offer, does his team get any type of compensation for their loss after the time and money they have invested in him? If the compensation is in the form of a draft pick, my thinking is James Jones was a 2nd round pick who never took full advantage of his playing opportunity last year. If this is the case, it would seem prudent to take the future draft pick, and free up JJ's future salary with the Pacers having Granger to replace him. They can always pick up someone that is cut later if necessary. (Jake from Greenwood, Ind.)
Answer: No, teams do not receive compensation if they let a restricted free agent get away.
Question: How is it that the Lakers get to draft a 17 year old? (Ted from Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Answer: The new rule stating players much be 19 and at least one year removed from high school doesn't apply to this year's draft. It goes into effect next year.
Question: Have you heard anything on Fred Hoiberg's heart condition? I hope he is doing well and is able to return to the NBA as soon as possible. (Bob from Indianapolis)
Answer: I just read a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Thursday's edition) about it. Fred had a press conference on Wednesday to discuss it. That was quite a scary thing, and hard to believe. Apparently Fred had the same condition that killed the actor John Ritter. Hoiberg passed out and fell after returning home from the hospital, but seems to be doing all right now. Doctors talk as if he can play again next year, but it's too early for Hoiberg to make that decision. He has one year left on his contract and will be paid whether he plays or not. He also wants to become a coach. Right now it looks as if it might be a good time to play it safe and start preparing for a new career.
Question: I read that Danny Granger is not participating in any contact drills because of his knees. Do you know what has happened to his knees? Did Pacers know about the problem when they drafted him? Are we looking at another Jonathan Bender, somebody with a lot of potential, but often too injured to show it? (Reza from Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Answer: I was imagining how fans would react when they heard of Granger's knee issue. Given all the injuries the Pacers had last season, I guess you can say he's a good fit for this team, huh?
His knee injury doesn't appear to be anything serious. He had surgery during his senior season at New Mexico and supposedly returned too soon, and it never had a chance to fully heal. Watching him work with coach Rick Carlisle after summer league practices, though, you don't notice any problems, and he wasn't wearing a brace. He also had some impressive workouts heading into the draft, including a legendary one-on-one battle with Hakim Warrick in Chicago that wowed the scouts, so at this point there's no reason to be too concerned.
Question: Are the Pacers going to make ANY moves this summer? Other teams have been adding players and making deals, while the Pacers just stand pat. (Michele from Denver)
Answer: Technically, nobody has made a deal yet. There have only been verbal agreements, with nothing becoming official until July 22.
The Pacers don't have the salary cap room to sign a major free agent, but that doesn't mean they haven't been active in conversation about using their mid-level exception. They've also been involved in trade talks, but if anything happens there it won't be announced until the 22nd.
Still, it's possible they will stand pat, other than re-signing Dale Davis and James Jones. One could argue that's the best approach given last season's success and the anticipated return of Ron Artest and Jonathan Bender and the addition of Danny Granger. They have never made trades for the sake of making trades. And if they make no trades this summer, one would have to know what deals they turned down to judge their decisions.