Mike Wells: Pacers Q&A
Indianapolis Star sports reporter Mike Wells answers your questions about the Pacers.

Answers Posted Dec. 3, 2005

Question: If Jonathon Bender decides to retire, will he still count against the Pacers salary cap in this and future seasons?

Answer: If Bender is forced to retire, which would be very unfortunate, he will still get paid because his contract is guaranteed. If an independent doctor determines Bender can no longer play, the Pacers will apply to the league to have what's left of his contract removed for salary cap purposes one year from the date it was determined he couldn't play anymore. The move will also help for luxury tax purposes. (Johnny from Chico, Calif.)

Question: I agree with you that the return of Jeff Foster will be huge. My question is what about the other centers on the roster. We are getting killed on the boards and the centers don't even play a combined 20 minutes in a game. Even when Pollard starts he seldom plays more than 15 minutes. If they can't rebound then why are they on the roster? (Tom from Muncie. Ind.)

Answer: I agree with you Tom on your comment about the centers not being able to play a combined 20 minutes a game and help rebound the ball. David Harrison can't stay on the court long enough to contribute because he usually picks up a couple of fouls within 30 seconds of checking into game. Harrison needs to learn to quit getting offensive fouls and to stay on his feet because the slightest pump fake sends him jumping toward the roof. Pollard is a situational center. He won't play unless the Pacers are going against somebody like Shaq or Yao Ming. Depending on how quickly Foster returns to his former self, the Pacers could end up trying to trade Pollard later this season because he's in the final of his contract. O'Neal and Croshere, the team's top rebounders, need Foster to get back into game shape quickly because you're right, the Pacers are getting outrebounded on the glass and it really showed in the Atlanta game when they gave up 24 offensive rebounds to the Hawks.

Question: Is there anyone that thinks the Pacers struggles are a result of Rick Carlisle? Everyone talks about how he is a great coach, and how he held the team together last year, but do you really think his style fits the Pacers? It seems like they are most suited to be a uptempo team and he is all about slowing them down and calling a play. What do you think? (Brian from Fort Wayne, Ind.)

Answer: There's no other way to put it: Carlisle is a micromanager when it comes to coaching. The Pacers had one of their best games against New Jersey when Carlisle wasn't constantly calling a play every time the court. Anthony Johnson said it best after that game when he said Carlisle "trusts himself more than he trusts us." This team has the players to play uptempo (except against Phoenix). The constant play calling disrupts the flow of the game. The ball usually ends up in O'Neal's hands in the post with everybody standing around watching after the initial first cut to the basket by the passer. Playing that style makes the Pacers predictable on offense. The things is, though, that style has allowed Carlisle to be successful as a coach so far. So I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't change his style.

Question: I'm one of the few Austin Croshere supporters. I've been saying for years that he is underappreciated and that when he is on the floor the team seems to play better. This perception was supported by an analysis published in the Star a season or two ago. I believe that he is getting more of an opportunity to play this season, and that he is playing well. My question is why was Croshere taken out near the end of the Atlanta game. I believe that he would have rebounded the missed free throw, and that the Pacers would have won the game. In fact, it seems like most of the Pacer losses so far this season have been because Croshere was not on the floor near the end of the game. (Kevin from Indianapolis)

Answer: Croshere's usually not on the court at the end of games for defensive purposes. As good of a rebounder and free throw shooter as he is, Croshere isn't quick enough on defense. You're taking a risk by having him on the court at the end of a close game because you'll probably have to give help, which will leave somebody else open on the court. Despite his defensive problems, Croshere has been one of the Pacers' bright spots this season.

Question: Is Stephan Jackson a plus or a minus for the Pacers in all respects?
(Jack from Bloomingdale, Ill.)

Answer: My problem with Jackson is that you never know which player is going to show up. Some nights he looks like a player that fits in well alongside Jermaine and Artest. Other nights he looks like he's the one hurting the team chemistry (the Nov. 25 game against Atlanta) and he's more worried about improving his individual stats than playing within the team concept. He has a tendency to take bad shots in the offense. I think part of that problem is the loss of Mike Brown to Cleveland. Brown had the ability to relate with the players and keep their head in the game. Brown would often go to the end of the bench and talk to Jackson to keep him focused when he would get upset over an issue.