*I started writing this as a reply to UB’s thread “Should the Pacers built the team around J.O. or start over completely” (http://www.pacersdigest.com/forums/s...d.php?t=16952), which harkened back to a post by Jay called “This Team is Built for the Regular Season” (http://www.pacersdigest.com/forums/s...d.php?t=10326). It sort of went off on a different tangent though…
"Because the team hasn’t committed the necessary in-game investment, he won’t be ready to start next season, and he might not even be ready to be a permanent member of the rotation." ... from Jay's post in regards to David Harrison.
This is something that bugs me more than anything else. I truly haven't felt like we would need to upgrade our 5 spot because I really thought Harrison would be "it." I mean, the guys is the second biggest C out there next to Shaq, and we have definitely seen flashes of him just being a beast in the paint. He would take pressure off of JO on both sides of the floor -- and I think that he would make Foster a better player... David and Foster could even play together at times, and Jeff's hustle would be a really big spark off the bench (like we saw toward the end of last season/into the playoffs... Dale was starting, and Jeff was the huge sparkplug... do you remember some of the ovations he got just for coming in and out of the game! I swear during the playoffs when he had his monster game against the Pistons, I went to the gift shop during halftime to buy a Foster jersey -- and they were sold out from that night alone!).
But, as Jay forecast months ago -- David is just not ready yet. He picks up too many fouls, leaves his feet too easily (which really should be coachable. He is a mountain in the middle -- why does he need to jump to contest every shot?? He could alter shots just standing in front of the guy with his hands up!), his offense isn't any more polished than it was in his first rookie game, and (perhaps most importantly) his head isn't where it should be. He still is a rookie in mine, and most people's opinions.
Do you remember the short-handed game against the Magic? Hulk scored 19 points with eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks in a career-high 44 minutes (not to mention only 3 fouls!). David, like 90% of young players in this league, needs consistent minutes to learn and develop. Yes he missed time due to injury last year, but how was that season not a golden opportunity to throw him in there every night and let him get his lumps? Last year David played in 43 games and averaged 17.7 mpg. He played, and started, less than Scot Pollard, btw.
I think, besides getting injured, what happened was exactly what Jay said. The team did not invest in him enough. He could (and in some minds, should) be starting for this team, and if not that, then should (in most minds) be the back-up C and an integral part of the rotation. But you, me and Rick Carlisle don’t think he’s ready. Why not? I think it all has to do with Reggie. If #31 had retired the prior year after the ECF, and had the brawl still happened, I really think we would not have pushed so hard for a playoff run, and instead tried to bide our time, develop our players, evaluate our pieces, been very happy with a lottery pick and start fresh in 05-06. The lottery pick worked out, but other than that, the only player we developed is James Jones now lighting it up for Phoenix, and we didn't evaluate our team SANS Ron. As everyone here is saying so much of our team is expendable as we really don't know what we have, and we really don't know what fits together and what doesn't.
When it comes to deciding who on our team is "untouchable" when it comes to re-tooling with the impending trade, there is only agreement on really 3 players... JO, Saras and Granger (some people still might think JO should be traded? Also, ironically, Kenny Smith said he doesn't think that Granger is untouchable). So our max-contract franchise player and two rookies are the only guys we can agree on not trading. How did we NOT get a better indicator of our team from last season -- considering Britton Johnsen and Michael Curry started games for us! (Or is it we just didn't like what we saw?)
(Total aside on the "untouchable" players... are Eddie Gill and Samaki Walker sweating it right now? They did just get DNP-CDs last night? Should they be looking into hiring a realtor? Does Walker even rent/own a place in Indy? Maybe he just sleeps in the Fieldhouse.)
I really have to agree with what Jay was talking about in his spring review post. This "retooling - rebuilding - reviewing" (or whatever you want to call it) process should have already happened. Granted, no one could have known how Ron would bring it this season, but we are so freaking clueless about the rest of the team that we don't know who we're willing to give up and what we need in return...
A healthy and reliable starting PG?
A defensive minded, speedy backup PG?
A slashing/score first SG/SF?
A lock-down defender/spot-up shooter?
A bruising enforcer at backup PF?
A scoring C?
A new head coach that will play an up-tempo game?
A couple of veterans to calm down our locker-room?
A hot, young prospect that will become our next star?
A couple of future first-rounders to pin our title hopes on the '07 draft and landing Greg Oden?
... or all of the above in a three-team trade in which we ship our Artest, Tinsley, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Croshere, Pollard, Bender's contract and bring back Mark Jackson, Travis Best, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Jalen Rose, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis and Rick Smits circa 1999-00?
I think with JO, Saras and Granger we would have a pretty solid line-up?
PG - Jackson - Best - Saras
SG - Miller - Saras
SF - Mullin - Rose - Granger
PF - O'Neal - Davis - Granger
C - Smits - Davis
Ok, well maybe I should move those last three paragraphs to the Trades thread (all of those ‘needs’ being something that someone iterated here in the forum in the last few days of craziness). But back to my original point... I agree with Jay that this team was not evaluated like it should have been over the course of last season and this summer to better prepare us for A) this year's campaign and B) what to do IF Ron didn't work. I tried to say that I think part of this problem was that Reggie's presence meant we had to make one last run -- and by no means do I place any blame on Miller or anyone in the organization. I think that was the right call, and because of it we all got to enjoy several Miller moments and truly appreciate how talented this guy still was at 39. But I contend that we would be in a much different place had Reggie not been on the team during the brawl season.
The other culpability is short-sidedness I guess at DW and LB. Talk radio this summer in Indy was centered around -- next season our Big 4 will be JO - Ron - Jax - JT: can a team co-exist with those personalities, and if not, who should be moved. DW and LB rolled the dice that it would either work, or that they could re-tool on the fly. They get their chance now, and if many people in this forum got their way, only JO of the four would remain. How did we (the Pacers org) not see this coming, and not have a better plan for it?
My biggest fear is that TPTB still haven’t done this evaluating, and the trade is going to just ship out Ron without moving any other significant pieces (Bender’s contract and/or an expiring Pollard don’t really count… does anyone expect them to be on our team past the trade deadline? Anyone?). I, like some others, think that this team needs more of a shake-up than that (although depending on who comes back in the trade, it might not be as necessary). But what do LB and DW think?
Within the next week we'll find out if there was a "Plan B."
(If you did, thanks for sticking with me on that rant)
PS: So what do I think we should do? I can’t really complain without offering a solution, can I? On Full Court Press they were talking about dealing with Sacto – but for Brad Miller, not Peja. Along with many others, I would love to see Brad back. He was an excellent compliment for JO, shores up everything up-front, and I really think that he could solve some of our perimeter problems, too… having two-inside scoring options will take the pressure off of JO and create better spacing outside. Brad is also so good at playing the high post and setting screens that Jackson and Jones would really benefit, IMO. I wish I could say that this was more than a pipe-dream, although there were some Sacto fans that called in that wanted to be rid of Brad Miller, for what its worth. He just answers so many more questions for us than Peja does (who is still a nice player, and a better trade than many that have been bandied about). Although this rumor for Shane Battier is interesting…
PPS: Oh, and David Harrison should play more, too.