This is in the Travis opus, but I thought I should post it separately to highlight other things.
Baston Out but Diener Reportedly In
June 19, 2007
Though Maceo Baston will not return to the Pacers, it appears the backup point guard slot has been stabilized with the reported contract agreement with free agent Travis Diener.
The Pacers opted not to match Toronto's offer sheet (reportedly $3.8 million over two seasons) on restricted free agent Baston, who'll now officially join the Raptors. Even without Baston, the team is relatively well-stocked in the frontcourt (Jermaine O'Neal, Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu, David Harrison) and has priorities elsewhere, specifically point guard.
"I like Maceo a lot," said Donnie Walsh, "but this time of year you have to make some tough choices, and we chose to let him go."
Baston averaged 8.6 minutes, 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 47 appearances last season. He rejoins the Toronto team that gave him his first NBA opportunity in 2003.
Though the Pacers haven't confirmed the deal, The Indianapolis Star reported the agreement with Diener, who averaged 3.8 points and 1.0 assists in 49 games with the Magic the past two seasons. A 6-1, 175-pound sharpshooter who paired with Dwyane Wade to lead Marquette to the NCAA Final Four in 2003, Diener should get the chance to establish himself as a legitimate NBA backup with the Pacers.
We know he can shoot: fully 72 percent of his shots (107 of 149) have come from the 3-point line, and he's hit 40.2 percent.
Former Pacers assistant Chad Forcier has landed a job in San Antonio. "It's always bittersweet when you leave a place where you have good memories," Forcier said, "but I'm really excited about the Spurs and the San Antonio situation." The only other member of Rick Carlisle's staff without a job is Chuck Person, whose name occasionally pops up in the rumor mill, most recently in Sacramento where he reportedly interviewed with new Kings Coach Reggie Theus. Two of Carlisle's assistants, Dan Burke and Leonard Perry, have been retained by the Pacers.
Though the signing of Kareem Rush has largely been greeted by shrugs locally, it will ultimately prove to be a significant move. The Pacers weren't the only team to covet Rush's ability to score in bunches but they did have something every player wants: real opportunity. Assuming he has his act together after the tempestuous close to his days in Charlotte, Rush will at least push incumbent starter Mike Dunleavy. He certainly looks to be a key piece in the rotation.
An early scouting report on Coach Jim O'Brien's practice style: focused, intense, hands-on, energetic and efficient. He likes to keep things moving and doesn't waste time. The players should respond well to that approach.
It appears the Nets' signing of veteran big man Jamal Magloire this week has brought an end to any chances of a deal with the Pacers. The draft-day rumor, you'll recall, had Jermaine O'Neal going to New Jersey for Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic and either Jason Collins or Marcus Williams. Now it appears the Nets are content with their frontcourt heading into the season.