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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006Q. Will Peja play against Cleveland Friday night? Is he going to have trouble adjusting initially? What role will he play in the offense? Are the Pacers going to switch to an up tempo/perimeter based offense to best utilize his skills? (From David in Indianapolis)
A. Though Peja is expected to be with the team on Friday night, it remains to be seen if he'll be in uniform. It might be preferable to give him the chance to practice once or twice before unveiling him. Then again, considering the expected -- and possibly prolonged -- absence of Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers might not be picky about little things like a guy knowing the plays and put him right out there.
There no doubt will be an initial adjustment period because Peja has played one style his entire NBA career, the free-flowing, high-post-oriented system of Kings Coach Rick Adelman. Rick Carlisle's low-post, halfcourt approach is quite different but could actually work very well with Peja's skills. Some tweaking will be necessary, but not a complete overhaul. Keep in mind, the original design of the system included plenty of plays for Reggie Miller, a player of similar profile. Stojakovic's best years in Sacramento came when paired with Chris Webber, the Kings' only real low-post threat. Webber was the primary target inside, with Stojakovic playing a complementary role on the perimeter. They worked together very well, creating opportunities for each other. The same should ultimately hold true with O'Neal. Regardless of the Xs and Os, shooters and post players go together like bacon and eggs. Or, for the diet conscious, yogurt and granola. It may take a little while for Peja to find his stride but he'll fit in well.