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Pacers swingman Brandon Rush is handcuffed by drug suspension
October 15, 2010 by Mike Wells|Star staff
Going from a starter to a reserve is not what Indiana Pacers swingman Brandon Rush envisioned when he finished last season strong.
The third-year swingman knows there’s a chance that could be his role during the first part of the regular season, too.
Rush is not sulking or complaining about his lack of playing time in the preseason. He knows he has no one to blame but himself.
The former first-round pick will miss the first five regular season games because he failed the NBA’s mandatory drug test three times.
“It’s all on me,” Rush said. “I put myself in this position by messing up.”
Rush has played a total of 38 minutes in four preseason games.
He may not play anymore in the preseason because coach Jim O’Brien plans to use rotation players in the final three games. The Pacers host the New Orleans Hornets tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“There are two issues,” O’Brien said. "There would be the issue of where he would be in the rotation if he wasn’t suspended. That is an issue separate from the suspension. He has to earn a rotation spot, number one. Number two, clearly he can’t be in it the first five games so I’m thinking in terms of obviously other people.
“And depending on how the other people do in the first five games, we’ll see how he fits back in.”
The wing is the Pacers’ deepest position. Mike Dunleavy and Danny Granger are the starters and O’Brien is using Paul George and James Posey off the bench. Dahntay Jones and Lance Stephenson also play on the wing.
“It may be pretty hard (to get back in the rotation),” Rush said. “But, again, I put myself in this position. I just have to work myself out of it.”
O’Brien has stated Rush has a lot of work ahead of him if he expects to average 30 minutes a game like last season.
“We have three guys — Mike, Danny and Paul — who are our top three guys at the wing spots,” O’Brien said. “Unless something happens, he’s going to have to find a way to move above those three guys in order to get the type of playing time he got in the past.”
Rush’s suspension took away from an impressive offseason in which he dealt with his on-going confidence issues.
The Pacers are worried that the embarrassment of the suspension, which was handed down in August, will affect Rush’s play.
O’Brien said Rush is not playing like he did when he averaged 11 points in the final 24 games last season.
“We told Brandon to let the past be the past,” O’Brien said. “It’s up to him to not totally forget about it, but to pay the penalty then get himself into game shape mentally and physically.”
Getting back in the rotation isn’t the only thing concerning Rush.
The Pacers have yet to decide if they will pick up his $2.9 million team option for next season. Rush will become an unrestricted free agent if the Pacers don’t pick up the option by Oct. 31.
“I’ve just got to keep showing up ready and practicing as hard as I can,” said Rush, who is allowed to practice with the team while suspended. “I should be able to get back in the rotation and hopefully show the team enough for when it comes to the option.”
If you have looked on his twitter account he has been telling his buddies he hasn't played cause he hurt his ankle in the Memphis game. I never heard anywhere that he got hurt in that game. Is there any truth to this? or does he have too much pride, too much embarrassment. I do think this will have a negative effect on him, doesn't seem to have much self esteem or motivation. I hope he plays to the potential that we all know he has and gets focused and blocks out all that bs but for some reason I don't see that happening. Hope you prove me wrong Brandon.