There is a lot of noteworthy things in this.
Ask the Expert
Posted by Mike Wells
(Steve) Question: MW, very quite now in the Pacers' camp, not hardly a peep! What's the scuttlebut now that Baby Al is back? More line-up shuffling seems to be the popular opinion, but I'm not so sure. Who's out there, and what have you heard Mike?
Answer: Things are relatively quiet with the Pacers these days. They’ve got 18 players under contract, three more than what’s allowed during the regular season. They’ve still got their midlevel exception, biannual exception and a $2.6 million trade exception, but I’ve been told they don’t plan on adding anymore payroll at the moment. They can release players or trade them for draft picks to get down to 15 players. There’s been talk about the Pacers needing to add another frontcourt player and 3-point shooter. I’ve been told they feel comfortable (at the moment) going with the current roster because of the lack of true centers in the East and Harrington’s ability to play in the post. Team officials think they’ve got enough outside shooters to keep the pressure off O’Neal in the post.
(J.J.) Question: What’s going on with Rick Carlisle’s contract situation?
Answer: Pacers officials said early in the offseason that Carlisle’s contract situation would be addressed at some point before the season started. All indications point to Carlisle, who is entering the final season of his four-year deal, receiving a contract extension. The Pacers feel they’ve improved team chemistry to where there won’t be a repeat of last season when it was obvious Carlisle, an exceptional basketball coach, didn't have control of his players. I talked to Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh and he said both parties plan on sitting down at some point to talk about getting an extension done. Walsh said he thinks the process could be finalized before the start of the regular season.
(Thomas) Question: It's projected that the starting front line for the Pacers will be Jermaine O'Neal at center with Harrington and Granger at the forward spots. I'm wondering why this type of arrangement wasn't implemented before Harrington was traded to Atlanta. In other words, if JO is willing to officially shift to the center spot, then theoretically, he could have done that two years ago to accommodate a starting front line of JO, Artest and Harrington. This would have allowed Harrington to stay with the Pacers as a starter, which is what he wanted all along and why he requested a trade. What's the difference that allows Pacer's management to contemplate a JO-Harrington-Granger starting front line, but not a JO-Artest-Harrington front line. Thanks!
Answer: The starting frontcourt of O’Neal, Granger and Harrington has only been speculated. Training camp is still a couple weeks away and there’s already been talk that Harrington and O’Neal will be the starting forwards with Jeff Foster at center. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said it best a couple of weeks when he said O’Neal is probably the only player that has his started spot cemented. O’Neal said earlier this summer that he would rather get the majority of his minutes at center, but doesn’t mind playing center if it’s “our best chance to win.” Of course Carlisle has the final say who is in the starting lineup. The speculation on a starting lineup could go all the way up to the season opener at Charlotte on Nov. 1.
(Ken) Question: Now that the Harrington trade has been completed, the Pacers roster totals 18 players. Several of those players might be considered marginal or fringe at best. Who will be on the roster when training camp opens?
Answer: It will be a competitive training camp for the final few roster spots.
Here are my givens: Jermaine O’Neal, Al Harrington, Jeff Foster, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels, Darrell Armstrong, David Harrison, James White, Shawne Williams, Danny Granger, Maceo Baston, Sarunas Jasikevicius.
That leaves John Edwards, Snap Hunter, Josh Powell, Rawle Marshall and Oriene Greene battling for the final two roster spots. The most intriguing battle could be Hunter and Greene. Greene is an exceptional on-the-ball defender while Hunter can put the ball in the basket a number of different ways.
(JT) Question: I thought that I read somewhere that the Pacers could apply to the NBA for salary cap relief when Jonathan Bender retired due to injury because the balance of his contract would be paid by an insurer. Is this correct and, if so, have the Pacers made such an application?
Answer: The Pacers applied and were granted salary cap relief by the NBA earlier this year. Bender will get his remaining $7.7 plus million, with insurance covering it for the Pacers. Bender’s salary won’t count against the salary cap or luxury tax for the Pacers.
(Bob) Question: Hey Mike,
First- Great job on the blog.
Maybe I've overlooked it, but I can't seem to find any details on why Kevin O'Neill departed.
Answer: The Pacers didn’t say much on why O’Neill won’t be back on the bench this season. There was grumblings inside the locker room about O’Neill’s inability to relate to the players. Some say he was part of the chemistry problems last season. O’Neill hasn’t landed anywhere as an assistant (he was reportedly turned down for assistant jobs in Detroit and Orlando) so he’ll be a consultant to Carlisle for this season unless he ends up with another team.
(Bruce) Question: Mike,
What's up - why was there no mention of the Pacers signing Jimmy "Snap" Hunter on the Indystar Pacers page? If you ask me, that's a big oversight. Please, acknowledge that the Pacers signed him.
Answer: Bruce, the reason you didn’t see anything written about Hunter officially signing his contract with the Pacers is because the Star wrote in late July he would sign a partially-guaranteed contract with the team. Hunter was one of the last players cut by the Pacers last season. He has no problem putting the ball in the basket. He’s always put up big numbers where ever he’s played at. The biggest issue surrounding Hunter is what position does he play. Some say he’s a point guard while others think of him as a shooting guard. Hunter will likely be borderline to make the team again this season.