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    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default SacBee article on Peja

    Forward thinking: Stojakovic is the Pacers' man late in games and in their big-picture plans

    By Ailene Voisin -- Bee Sports Columnist

    http://www.sacbee.com/content/sports...15053991c.html

    Published 2:15 am PST Friday, March 17, 2006

    Story appeared in Sports section, Page C1

    INDIANAPOLIS - Peja Stojakovic left Sacramento with secrets from the past two seasons stored safely inside the ancient walls of Arco Arena, exact location never to be disclosed. He always chose his words as carefully as if he were measuring the distance on a three-pointer. He never revealed the extent of his back injury, never discussed his discontent with his diminished role in the offense, never explained why he stopped sprinting between baselines. He never really explained why, after the promise of three All-Star seasons, his career stalled and sputtered on the edges of a plateau.

    Was it him? Was it the Kings?

    Sell It Yourself
    Was it simply time to say goodbye?

    "As much as I was connected to the city," Stojakovic said late Wednesday, allowing at least a peek into his thoughts, "I felt kind of this year, that my time with the team was over. You can't connect the city with the team.

    "People were incredible there. But sometimes things have to happen. Teams have their runs. We had a great opportunity and didn't accomplish our goal. Then I hurt my back, hurt my hand, and the team wasn't doing well. With my injuries ... people didn't believe I was injured."

    In other words - and for so many reasons - it was simply time to say goodbye. The fans were frustrated, the building was a morgue, the exits becoming gridlocked well before outcomes had been decided. The Kings needed a makeover of players and personalities - the Mike Bibby, Brad Miller, Peja Stojakovic nucleus a miserably failed experiment - and Peja desperately needed a career boost as well. He sensed it. Everyone sensed it.

    "The great thing about this league," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, "is that dynamic changes can happen quickly, and can happen in a very positive way for multiple teams involved in a trade. And this has been a good trade for both teams (though) a little harder to evaluate it from our side with Jermaine (O'Neal) not being available."

    Ron Artest, his prior bad acts a far less juicy conversation piece these days than his on-court contributions, has transformed the Kings into a steely-minded club that looms as a scary postseason opponent. The muscular small forward with the multi-layered game has fulfilled all of Larry Bird's promises; offensively and defensively, there might not be a better player in basketball.

    But Carlisle is right. Both franchises benefited from the trade. The Pacers with Artest were grinding to a halt, emotionally as well as offensively. The Artest-0'Neal pairing was just another ill-fated marriage. Thus, besides easing the locker room tension, Peja also provides the Pacers with the long-sought perimeter shooting and adequate defense, along with someone who, with the proper push from people in high places, is eager to expand his one-on-one skills.

    So no regrets. The Kings gave him his first chance, the Pacers offer him his next challenge.

    The Pacers, in fact, are offering a lot of what he wasn't getting in Sacramento, including the ball in the fourth quarter.

    "Coming down the stretch," observed Pacers point guard Anthony Johnson, "you know it's going to be Mike Bibby and Brad Miller playing off each other. Here, partly due to the fact that Jermaine is out, Peja is going to be our No. 1 option. And when you know you're going to get the ball, that's half the battle right there."

    Adapting to Stojakovic's presence and the recurring problem with injuries to key players, Carlisle, an excellent tactician who favors a methodical, isolation-type offense that has been known to provoke grumbling from some players (all those not named O'Neal), is gritting his teeth but espousing a more free-flowing, uptempo system. Backdoor cuts and crisp ball movement are becoming common sights around Conseco Fieldhouse, as is the sight of Peja taking a handoff at the high post, settling behind screens and launching with his familiar, rhythmic stroke. And the longtime Kings small forward has been doing more than shooting jumpers. At the behest of Bird and Carlisle, he is aggressively attempting a variety of low-post moves, step-throughs and spinning, reverse layups. His one-on-one game is improving.

    "We're working with him," said Carlisle, "and we feel he has the ability to develop footwork, create his shot more effectively. There's a lot of room for expansion in his game."

    Then there's Bird's long-term plans for Peja: Re-sign the eight-year pro, who can become a free agent this summer, and alter the roster to accommodate his abilities. The plan is to build around Peja, refining an offense that utilizes O'Neal at the high post, a la Vlade Divac and Miller, and improve quickness in the backcourt. "I didn't get Peja to let him get away," said Bird. "As we move forward, he's a key player for us."

    Clearly, this presents the greatest challenge since Peja's unproven rookie season, and is the first time since 2003-04 that he has been the featured performer - given the late opportunities and expected to convert. Yet during a lengthy conversation, he insists he is determined - and, yes, once again eager - to duplicate his career-best season.

    "I never ran from that responsibility," he said, with a hint of annoyance. "I am really looking forward to this. I'm learning and adjusting. This is something new and exciting for me. We do work hard on defense. It's a different mentality. We still haven't played together, still don't know our potential. But I really like the guys on the team. I am really happy."

    Seated at his dressing stall in a nearly empty locker room, Stojakovic, who typically reveals little of his inner thoughts, is as polite and personable as ever. He chats openly about everything except basketball: He and his companion, Alexandra, recently had a daughter they named Mila. He proposed marriage and hopes she accepts. Asked about a yellow rubber ducky resting on a stack of papers, Peja laughs. "My son (Andrej) left that in the car," he says, his eyes suddenly alight, "and I keep it here because it reminds me of my boy."

    If there is one thing that bothers him about his last years in Sacramento, it's a suspicion that neither his teammates nor Kings fans appreciated the effect of his lower-back problems on his productivity. (Before finalizing the trade, in fact, Bird submitted Peja's MRI's to numerous specialists and was concerned enough to consult his own long-time therapist). Stojakovic also allows, with only a hint of annoyance, that he never nominated himself for the role of fourth-quarter decoy.

    "But that's OK," he adds quickly. "We had some great times. Those times are going to stay in my head like best memories. We always had great guys, great atmosphere. I never took anything personally.

    "The Kings ... that was my first team. I was always dreaming of playing in the NBA. Then I came to the Kings. I make my name with the Kings. We just ... move on."
    So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

    If you've done 6 impossible things today?
    Then why not have Breakfast at Milliways!


  2. #2
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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    piksi beat you by one minute. thats crazy that you both would post the same article that close to gether.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Great article. Type of article we rarely see in Indy

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Bird's comments are fascinating.

    What's the long-term plan for Granger?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    It appears by Bird's comments , he wants Jermaine away from the post and compares him to centers Divac and Miller. Could be he sees Danny Granger as more of a pf or even a sg? With Peja and Danny it could be they flip flop spots on both ends of the court. With Granger taking the more active sf or sg on defense.

    Bird is not throwing Danny , to the side he is just saying what his main plans are for the offense. Granger , I believe is seen as a vital cog in the Pacer plans by Bird and Walsh.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    That's really interesting. Didn't I just have a post about Jermaine playing the high post and Harrison playing the low post?

    I wish I knew what Bird was thinking.
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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    The Pacers, in fact, are offering a lot of what he wasn't getting in Sacramento, including the ball in the fourth quarter.

    "Coming down the stretch," observed Pacers point guard Anthony Johnson, "you know it's going to be Mike Bibby and Brad Miller playing off each other. Here, partly due to the fact that Jermaine is out, Peja is going to be our No. 1 option. And when you know you're going to get the ball, that's half the battle right there."
    This is not entirely true...technically....Peja is used in the 4th QTR...but the majority ( but not all ) of the "crunch time" shots have been made by SJax or AJ. I just know that if a shot has to be made....I'm not as surprised that the ball goes to SJax or AJ....and not the best shooter on the team.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC
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    This is not entirely true...technically....Peja is used in the 4th QTR...but the majority ( but not all ) of the "crunch time" shots have been made by SJax or AJ. I just know that if a shot has to be made....I'm not as surprised that the ball goes to SJax or AJ....and not the best shooter on the team.
    "attempted" would be more acurate
    Vulpes pilum mutat, non mores!

  9. #9
    Artest is the best!
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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    i undestand why peja doesnt get the ball in the fourth quarter. he isnt clutch. i know you guys dont wanna hear that and im sorry but if i was a pacer fan i would understand why someone else was taking the shot instead of peja. hes not mentally tough and hes a first 3 quarters kind of player. i know you guys wonder why the best shooter isnt shooting the ball at the end of games but peja isnt the best shooter when its under pressure. dont get me rong peja is still one of my favorite players but i just know the guy is no good in the fourth quarter or playoffs.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Artest is the best!
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    i undestand why peja doesnt get the ball in the fourth quarter. he isnt clutch. i know you guys dont wanna hear that and im sorry but if i was a pacer fan i would understand why someone else was taking the shot instead of peja. hes not mentally tough and hes a first 3 quarters kind of player. i know you guys wonder why the best shooter isnt shooting the ball at the end of games but peja isnt the best shooter when its under pressure. dont get me rong peja is still one of my favorite players but i just know the guy is no good in the fourth quarter or playoffs.


    I know that is his reputation, but since he's been here, he has hit some big shots in the 4th quarter. This topic is very subjective, I'm just judging him as a Pacers, just like I'm sure you're judging Artest just as a King.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    David in low post, JO in the high post, Danny on one wing, Peja on the other, and insert PG here. Hmm. Not bad.

    You know, I think the interesting thing is how truly versatile Danny is. When he was in the draft, and the same was said after we picked him, was that he was versatile enough to play the 3, 2, and even a little 1. Yet he's been a very good rookie playing predominatly at the 4. With that said, I am very curoius to see how accurate the scouting reports were about him being versatile in the OTHER direction. What if he can be as effective at the 2 as he's been at the 4 and 3? If Danny can actually be an honest to God shooting guard, I think we have a hell of a good thing going.

    PG (Tinsley or someone else)
    SG Granger
    SF Stojakovic
    PF O'Neal
    xC Harrison

    Again, if Danny can truly play the 2, and we don't really know yet, but the pre and post-draft reports made it sound like he could, then we are in great shape for the near future.

  12. #12
    Artest is the best!
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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck
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    I know that is his reputation, but since he's been here, he has hit some big shots in the 4th quarter. This topic is very subjective, I'm just judging him as a Pacers, just like I'm sure you're judging Artest just as a King.
    thats true he has hit some big shots late in the game for the pacers. i just saw his last couple of games where he didint score much in the fourth quarter.

  13. #13

    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    I think clutch play can be learned, but it's a bumpy road full of blown games before you get comfortable, just ask LeBron James. I have no problem giving Peja the opportunity to win or lose games for us, because even with him being (formerly) gun-shy, he's still more likely to make it than Jax

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Eindar
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    I think clutch play can be learned, but it's a bumpy road full of blown games before you get comfortable, just ask LeBron James. I have no problem giving Peja the opportunity to win or lose games for us, because even with him being (formerly) gun-shy, he's still more likely to make it than Jax
    i dont think peja can learn to be clutch! lebron isnt a good comparison because this is his third year. peja has benn in the league a long time and if he isnt clutch by now he will never be.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Artest is the best!
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    thats true he has hit some big shots late in the game for the pacers. i just saw his last couple of games where he didint score much in the fourth quarter.

    Which games were those.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    I don't think that's true at all. Reggie was in the league for six or seven years before he was remotely considered clutch.

    Chuck was the #1 option in the fourth quarter until he was traded, then Detlef until he was traded.

    And then Reggie became one of the best clutch performers of all time. But in his fifth/ sixth seasons with the Pacers, none of us would have believed it would possible for him to grow into that role.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by diamonddave00
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    It appears by Bird's comments , he wants Jermaine away from the post and compares him to centers Divac and Miller. Could be he sees Danny Granger as more of a pf or even a sg? With Peja and Danny it could be they flip flop spots on both ends of the court. With Granger taking the more active sf or sg on defense.

    Bird is not throwing Danny , to the side he is just saying what his main plans are for the offense. Granger , I believe is seen as a vital cog in the Pacer plans by Bird and Walsh.
    (REBOUNDING!!!!)
    (Danny is NOT going to be chasing guards)
    Take it to the bank.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by diamonddave00
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    It appears by Bird's comments , he wants Jermaine away from the post and compares him to centers Divac and Miller. Could be he sees Danny Granger as more of a pf or even a sg? With Peja and Danny it could be they flip flop spots on both ends of the court. With Granger taking the more active sf or sg on defense.

    Bird is not throwing Danny , to the side he is just saying what his main plans are for the offense. Granger , I believe is seen as a vital cog in the Pacer plans by Bird and Walsh.
    Inside/Outside. That's the comparison. There's nothing to imply Jermaine out of the post.

  19. #19

    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck
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    Which games were those.
    I can't remember which teams, but there were a couple games a week or so ago where we had a lead going into the 4th, and Peja scored like...3 points in the 4th, on 2 shots, or something rediculous like that. It made me nervous at the time, because I knew his reputation, and I wondered if he was shying away from the ball during crunch time, or if it was simply a matter of him not knowing the offense well enough to be trusted with the ball.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Artest is the best!
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    i undestand why peja doesnt get the ball in the fourth quarter. he isnt clutch. i know you guys dont wanna hear that and im sorry but if i was a pacer fan i would understand why someone else was taking the shot instead of peja. hes not mentally tough and hes a first 3 quarters kind of player. i know you guys wonder why the best shooter isnt shooting the ball at the end of games but peja isnt the best shooter when its under pressure. dont get me rong peja is still one of my favorite players but i just know the guy is no good in the fourth quarter or playoffs.
    Just because the Kings locked him into that role doesn't mean we have to. What KIND of shots was he getting? He's not a one on one, break you down, player.
    Just like it's not an ABSOLUTE that Artest will implode and take your team with him. (but he will........

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks
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    David in low post, JO in the high post, Danny on one wing, Peja on the other, and insert PG here. Hmm. Not bad.

    You know, I think the interesting thing is how truly versatile Danny is. When he was in the draft, and the same was said after we picked him, was that he was versatile enough to play the 3, 2, and even a little 1. Yet he's been a very good rookie playing predominatly at the 4. With that said, I am very curoius to see how accurate the scouting reports were about him being versatile in the OTHER direction. What if he can be as effective at the 2 as he's been at the 4 and 3? If Danny can actually be an honest to God shooting guard, I think we have a hell of a good thing going.

    PG (Tinsley or someone else)
    SG Granger
    SF Stojakovic
    PF O'Neal
    xC Harrison

    Again, if Danny can truly play the 2, and we don't really know yet, but the pre and post-draft reports made it sound like he could, then we are in great shape for the near future.

    Ignoring: David is a weak rebounder for his size. Peja is an "adequate" rebounder for 6'10". Jermaine is good, though he was down some. Danny is EXCELLENT! As he is blocking shots.
    Guard is NOT this guys domain.

  22. #22

    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Artest is the best!
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    i dont think peja can learn to be clutch! lebron isnt a good comparison because this is his third year. peja has benn in the league a long time and if he isnt clutch by now he will never be.
    Keep in mind that Peja has been surrounded by clutch players his entire career. He's never had to take the big shot, so on the rare occasion where he had to, of course he was nervous and choked a bit. Unless the Kings were injury riddled, Peja has always had Webber and Bibby there to take the big shot, and honestly, either of those guys are very solid last-shot guys.

    Like Jay said, clutch comes with experiences in the clutch. Will Peja be one of those guys? Maybe, he's certainly got the tools. Time will tell, and Kings fans will be LIVID if he becomes a solid game-winner for us, I can tell you that.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Ignoring: David is a weak rebounder for his size. Peja is an "adequate" rebounder for 6'10". Jermaine is good, though he was down some. Danny is EXCELLENT! As he is blocking shots.
    Guard is NOT this guys domain.
    DH may not actually get the rebound, but he prevents his man and usually another opposing player from getting it as well.

    He is the BEST box out player on the pacers, bar none. He's even starting to get multiple fouls called on his man because they hold him from behind or try to pull him down to get around him.

    You're terribly misrepresenting what he does to the rebounding game.
    Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right. ― Ricky Gervais.

    What if someone from a school of business or management school were to ask, How did you do this? How did you get the Pacers turned around? Is there a general approach you've taken that can be summarized?

    Larry Bird: Yeah, patience.

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    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by Artest is the best!
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    i dont think peja can learn to be clutch! lebron isnt a good comparison because this is his third year. peja has benn in the league a long time and if he isnt clutch by now he will never be.
    Peja is going to get a LOT more OPEN looks once Jermaine comes back, than he ever got as a King. You had no low post threat that everyone KNEW was going to take that last shot. Now if the defense collapses on Jermaine, Peja is going to get CLEAN looks.
    I'll live with that.

  25. #25

    Default Re: SacBee article on Peja

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Ignoring: David is a weak rebounder for his size. Peja is an "adequate" rebounder for 6'10". Jermaine is good, though he was down some. Danny is EXCELLENT! As he is blocking shots.
    Guard is NOT this guys domain.
    There's no reason he can't grab a lot of boards as a 2. There have been many SGs who have averaged 8 boards per game. And it's not like Peja is a horrible rebounder, forcing Danny to be under the basket. Finally, just because he's starting at shooting guard, doesn't mean he's going to be getting all of his minutes there. When Peja goes out, Granger slides over to 3 to make room for Jones (or whoever). It's not an ideal solution, but there's nothing horribly wrong with it.

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