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Salt Lake City - All Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle asked first-round pick David Harrison to do was work out in Indianapolis for two days after his July 7 introductory news conference.
The former Colorado star center declined.
Instead, Harrison - trying to overcome a predraft perception that he doesn't work hard - stayed in town and worked out for two weeks.
"He's made improvements," Carlisle said. "We feel it's a clean start for him. He's well aware of the questions about certain things relative to his career at this point. He's shown us in the last month that he's willing to change the perception and the reality.
"I wanted him to stay for two days so we could show him some things that he could go home and work on. But he decided he wanted to stay straight through (summer league). He's had a very diligent, professional approach. We are very happy."
Today, Harrison and the Pacers take on the Nuggets in the Rocky Mountain Revue at Salt Lake Community College.
The 7-foot, 285-pound Harrison was one of the few true centers selected in the recent draft. He left CU after his junior year believing he would be drafted as early as the middle of the first round. Instead, he fell to Indiana with the final pick of the first round.
The Pacers might be the perfect fit. They are a winning team that can afford to take time and develop young players, and they are in need of a bulky center who can serve as a backup and potentially grow into a starting role. Jeff Foster, 6-11, 242 pounds, started 79 games at center for Indiana last season, but isn't a true center. Pacers all-star Jermaine O'Neal is more comfortable at power forward, and veteran forward-center Scot Pollard played little.
"It's a blessing in disguise," Harrison said. "It's a great team, and there is a need for someone my size on this team."
Said Carlisle: "Very few guys come into the league having his size, strength, mobility and experience as a three-year college player. We don't have a big, powerful center. He fills the need, and if he keeps working, he'll create an opportunity to play."
Typical of a rookie, Harrison's play has been inconsistent during the Rocky Mountain Revue. He had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots against Dallas on Saturday, but in the next two games - against Utah and Charlotte - he combined for 13 points, five rebounds, three blocks, 15 fouls (players can't foul out in the summer league) and 10 turnovers. However, he followed that with a 22-point game against San Antonio, despite playing with an injured hand.
"Everyone's questioned his work ethic, but so far, so good with us," Pacers president and former NBA great Larry Bird said. "He's a strong man. But I think his midsection has to get a little stronger; he has to lose a little weight. ... He's got all the skills."
Said Harrison: "It's a lot of work. I'm trying to learn a new offense, basically a new way of life. I want to show them that I am willing to work."
Sounds encouraging that Harrison wants to change the perception that he has no work ethic. If he keeps it up i could possibly see him starting if Dampier doesnt come to Indy. One thing i wish he could improve on is rebounding. He will need help on the defensive side of the ball. From what i saw yesterday on the offensive side. He knows how to create space, but he easily backs down the defender with pure muscle which causes his offensive fouls. The young man doesnt know his own strength, with coaching most of his old habits will change.
Dukins he will not start for the Pacers for a very long time. He has a ton of work to do to even contribute as a backup for any NBA team. Do not get your hopes up that he will contribute this year at all.
He wears out in three trips down the floor and these are not exactly NBA games. He likes to commit offensive fouls, the problem is that he is not Shaq so he will not get away with it. He plays like is is much shorter than he is. I think Buck put it best he plays like he is 6'9" not 7'0".