Darren Collison grew up in Southern California watching fellow UCLA alum Reggie Miller lead the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs on a regular basis.
Collison wants to pick up where Miller left off.
"People can look forward to a player that loves to win," Collison said in a phone interview Thursday. "I just want to bring that excitement back to the city."
Collison will be given the opportunity to lead the Pacers back to the postseason for the first time since 2006. He's expected to be the starting point guard when the Pacers open the season Oct. 27 at San Antonio.
"I talked to Darren and he's excited about the opportunity to run the team," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "He knows the tempo we play at, and he's excited to be part of this growth process."
The Pacers are confident they solved their lingering point guard issues by acquiring Collison and veteran swingman James Posey from New Orleans in a four-team deal that sent Troy Murphy to New Jersey on Wednesday. The Pacers have ended each of the past five seasons with a different starting point guard.
"As much as I liked having Troy on the team, he certainly gave us a double-double every time out, but by getting Collison and Posey, we really made ourselves more athletic and quicker," O'Brien said.
Collison, who will arrive in Indianapolis this weekend, is excited about being the one responsible for getting the ball to Danny Granger, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert.
"What I am is a hard-working player, someone that loves to win and will do anything to win games," Collison said. "Last year with New Orleans, it didn't sit well with me because we didn't make the playoffs. I'm not accustomed to that coming from UCLA."
O'Brien, who is out of town for a wedding, described Collison as quick, savvy and fundamentally sound.
"Darren has a way of having the quickness and smarts to get in the paint," O'Brien said. "When he gets in the paint, he's under control. He's shown he can space the court with his outside shot. He's a confident young man with solid leadership potential."
O'Brien should know. Collison dropped a triple-double (18 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists) on the Pacers in February.
Collison averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists in 37 starts as a rookie with the Hornets last season.
"It's a tremendous confidence boost because anytime you can put up those numbers, you're seeing the court, you're reading the personnel, you're reading the NBA well," he said. "No matter what the defense throws at you, you're able to counter. That's what I learned playing behind (All-Star) Chris (Paul)."
Collison will have an opportunity to duplicate those numbers because the Pacers take a lot of shots, and O'Brien has been looking for a player who can break down the defense on a regular basis.
"He's certainly a promising point guard," O'Brien said. "We've added another guy to the other young guys on the team so we can continue to grow in a positive direction."
***Also here is a link to the JMV podcast section where in the Wells interview he says the Pacers tried to offer TJ a 3.5 mil buy out. Hadn't seen it anywhere else. Gotta start low I guess.
The interview with Chad Ford is interesting too. He calls the move a homerun for the Pacers...