Just sharing some reading I've found...
Indiana Pacers 2004 Draft Preview
(Sports Network) - Indiana fell short of its goal to reach the NBA Finals, as the Pacers were knocked out by the Detroit Pistons in six games in Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers do have two All-Stars on their roster, as forwards Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest, who was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year, are in the prime of their careers.
Al Harrington, who can play power or small forward, gives the Pacers a solid sixth man. Twenty-three-year-old Jonathan Bender is still developing even though he has played five seasons in the league.
Indiana has its point guard in Jamaal Tinsley, but 38-year-old shooting guard Reggie Miller's best days have passed him by. It is time for the Pacers to replace the 17-year veteran.
With Jeff Foster as its starting center, Indiana could also try to upgrade its presence in the middle. Foster is more suited to be a backup.
The Pacers should try to select a guard who Miller can tutor in the final year (s) of his career. Trading up could be a possibility. Bender could be the bait, as there are teams who believe there is still a big upside to the 23- year-old veteran.
Key Player(s): Ron Artest (forward), Jonathan Bender (forward), Jeff Foster (center), Al Harrington (forward), Reggie Miller (guard), Jermaine O'Neal (forward), Jamaal Tinsley (guard).
Team Needs: A center, a scoring guard to replace Miller and a backup point guard.
Draft picks: 1st round (29th overall), 2nd round (58th overall).
Pacers sorely need to fill void left by Brad Miller
June 13, 2004
Larry Bird says changes might be made because the other teams in the division are improving. He says the Pacers need to get bigger and need more outside shooting.
Looking inside the division, it's easy to see where to improve. Michael Redd, Jamal Crawford, Richard Hamilton and LeBron James like to feast on the Pacers. When the Pacers had Brad Miller you couldn't double team Jermaine O'Neal. Not so now.
They should send Al Harrington, draft picks and players to Washington for Kwame Brown, a 7-footer who can score and rebound; Juan Dixon, a quick point guard who can score; and Larry Hughes.
By playoff performance, Artest is overrated
The recent letter calling for Larry Bird to get rid of Austin Croshere and trade Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster and Jamaal Tinsley "to make the Pacers a serious contender" was ludicrous at best.
The writer stated that O'Neal and Harrington are not "tough enough" to lead the team to a championship. That's also ludicrous.
He left out the most over-praised and overrated Pacer in the playoffs, who seemed to have left his leadership and shooting skills back in the locker room. One writer calls Ron Artest the "Pacer least dispensable," but anyone watching the playoffs would have to disagree. Pacers coaches and management say there have to be some personnel changes. Those who stay will also have to make some changes -- in passing, shooting, teamwork skills and attitude.
Pacers coach admits he'll have to do some trading
By SEAN DEVENEY
It wasn't exactly news, but ears around the league did perk up when Pacers coach Rick Carlisle admitted last week the team is too loaded with wing players and a trade must be made.
Small forward Al Harrington, small forward Jonathan Bender of Picayune and shooting guard Fred Jones will be trade bait, and Harrington is the most likely to go. Of equal importance to the Pacers will be whether shooting guard Reggie Miller can be convinced to give up his starting slot to either Jones or Bender.
Small forward Ron Artest is an option at shooting guard, but he is such an ideal small forward that it would be tough to pull him out of that spot.
I present this one only because of the title. Look closely....
Lakers gain OT on clutch Bryant shot, beat Pacers to tie series
By: CHRIS SHERIDAN - Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- In a performance that cemented his status as one of the great superstars in NBA history, Kobe Bryant pulled off a most stunning display on the sport's biggest stage.
Bryant tied the game with a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation and helped the Los Angeles Lakers pull away for good at the start of overtime in their 99-91 victory against the Detroit Pistons in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
"It's probably the biggest shot I've hit in my career, period," Bryant said.
Seconds from facing a 2-0 deficit with the series headed to Detroit, the Lakers evened it at a game apiece behind Bryant's 33 points and seven assists.
"It's all about rising to the challenge," Bryant said. "High stakes. I know I can rise to that."
The teams will go at it again Thursday night, each having earned a greater level of respect for their opponent. The Lakers now realize more than ever that the Pistons are anything but a pushover, while Detroit now knows that no victory is ever secure when the ball can end up in Bryant's hands for the biggest shot of the game.
"It's a challenge," Bryant said. "A dogfight. No one said it was going to be easy. We look forward to going up there."
Shaquille O'Neal added 29 points for the Lakers, six of them coming in the extra period as Los Angeles improved to 7-0 in overtime games during the regular season and postseason.
One of those victories came on the final night of the regular season at Portland when Bryant hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime, then won it at the end of the extra period with another 3 to give the Lakers the Pacific Division title.
This time, things looked fairly hopeless for the Lakers as they trailed by six points with less than 40 seconds left in regulation. But O'Neal converted a three-point play and Chauncey Billups missed a runner for Detroit, giving the Lakers a last shot.
"Well, we always believe Kobe can make miracle shots even when things are not going well for him," coach Phil Jackson said. "That was a great shot."
Naturally, the ball went to No. 8. And naturally, Bryant drilled it.
"That's why he's so special," Pistons coach Larry Brown said.
After hitting the shot over the outstretched hand of old high school rival Richard Hamilton, Bryant ran back to the bench to chest-bump teammate Devean George as Detroit called timeout to set up a last shot.
"Shaq gave me a great down pick," Bryant said. "I had Richard on me, and I just tried to gather my balance and knock it down."
Rasheed Wallace let Tayshaun Prince's inbounds pass slip through his hands, and the clock expired without the Pistons attempting a final shot.
The momentum was squarely on the Lakers' side by then, and Los Angeles outscored Detroit 10-2 in the extra period to even the series.
Bryant began the extra period by feeding O'Neal for a dunk, but he then picked up his fifth foul with 4:18 left. Did it matter? Not a bit.
Bryant scored on a drive, fed O'Neal for a 4-footer and scored on a driving bank shot for a 97-91 lead.
The capper came when Luke Walton, a surprise contributor in the first half and at the end, sent an alley-oop pass to O'Neal for a dunk.
Detroit shot just 1-for-9 in overtime, ruining a performance that seemed so promising as regulation wound down.
Billups scored 27 and Richard Hamilton 26 for the Pistons.
The difference-maker in the first half was Walton, a rookie who didn't even get off the bench in Game 1.
Besides making all three of his shots and grabbing three rebounds, Walton had five assists. Two of them came on passes to Bryant to begin a 15-6 run to close the half that gave the Lakers a 44-36 lead.
Los Angeles was able to sustain a comfortable margin through the early part of the third quarter, in large part because the Lakers' own sloppiness was matched by Detroit's. After Jackson berated Payton as he walked off the court during a timeout, Bryant came out and hit a 22-foot jumper for a 54-43 lead.
Detroit began chipping away by going at the Lakers' two aging superstars, Rasheed Wallace taking on Karl Malone and Billups going at Payton. Both Los Angeles players began making mental mistakes on offense, too.
Getting 16 points in the quarter from Billups and eight from Rasheed Wallace, Detroit pulled within one point late in the quarter and trailed 68-66 entering the fourth.
Walton didn't get off the bench in the second half until after Detroit scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to tie it, and the Pistons pulled ahead on a 3-pointer by Lindsey Hunter as Jackson went with a lineup of Walton, Kareem Rush, Brian Cook, Derek Fisher and O'Neal.
O'Neal took a pass from Walton and plowed into Ben Wallace with 6:17 left, picking up his fifth foul and heading to the bench. A give-and-go layup by Hamilton off a pass from Rasheed Wallace was followed by an airball by Bryant, and Rasheed Wallace then fed Ben Wallace for a reverse layup and an 81-77 lead.
Detroit traded baskets with the Lakers on the next two possessions, and a missed 3 by Bryant was followed by two free throws by Hamilton for an 87-82 lead with 1:19 left. Notes:@ Jackson's girlfriend, Jeannie Buss (daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) went on a local radio program Monday and said she was 95 percent certain Jackson would return to coach the team next season. "She freelanced on it," Jackson said.