Pacers' roster exceeds league limit of 15
By Mark Montieth
July 31, 2006
The Indiana Pacers' roster is bursting at the seams, so alterations are in order.
Not on the seams, but for what fits in them.
They will soon have 16 players under contract, one beyond the league limit, and have more wants and needs to address. They are hoping to obtain Al Harrington in a trade with Atlanta that would not send players to the Hawks. They're also hoping to add a center or power forward and perhaps a perimeter shooter.
They're armed with a $7.5 million trade exception and the mid-level exception, which would allow them to offer a contract starting at $5.2 million, but some of their changes will have to be accomplished with more trades.
Downsizing can be accomplished simply, if they choose to do so. Guard Jimmie "Snap" Hunter is scheduled to sign a contract Wednesday, but it carries only a partial guarantee of about $100,000. They also have the option of releasing Josh Powell and Rawle Marshall, two minimum-salary, one-year veteran forwards obtained in the trade with Dallas that also brought Darrell Armstrong in exchange for Anthony Johnson.
Marshall's contract becomes guaranteed for next season if he's still on the Pacers' roster after Aug. 7. Powell's becomes guaranteed if he's on the roster after Oct. 1.
The Pacers are reluctant to let them go, however. Both are young, athletic and improving, and have given indications they belong in the league.
That seems particularly true of Marshall, an exceptionally athletic 6-7 forward with long arms. He averaged 3.1 points over 23 games last season in Dallas, starting nine. He led the Mavericks' summer league team in scoring shortly before the trade to the Pacers, averaging 16 points on 44 percent shooting through five games.
The 6-9 Powell averaged 3.0 points in 37 games last season, starting two, then 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in summer league play. He's drawn comparisons to Udonis Haslem, a role-playing starter on Miami's championship team.
"The more I look at it, I kind of like it," CEO Donnie Walsh said of the possibility of the two staying with the team.
Something will have to give for that to happen if the Pacers acquire Harrington, but plenty of time remains to make adjustments before training camp opens in October.
Walsh, however, said he is content with his backcourt.
"I like our perimeter players now," he said. "We have a lot of them and they're all different than what we had before. They're long and athletic, and they can defend."
Jones gets fresh start
The Pacers are planning to speed up their offense next season, but that comes too late for former guard Fred Jones.
Jones, who signed a three-year, $11 million contract with Toronto as a restricted free agent, looks forward to playing in an up-tempo system with the Raptors.
"That wasn't conducive to my style," Jones told Toronto reporters when asked about the Pacers' style of play. "I have no complaints about my time in Indiana. We were a good team, I loved my teammates and we had a lot of fun. That was their system I was drafted into. This just fits my mode a lot better."
He also hopes to be free of the controversies that dogged the Pacers the past two seasons.
"Everything that was going on in the media, everything that was going on in the locker room, that dampened our spirits a little bit," he said. "To get away from that and start fresh is going to be a new feeling."