Question: You mentioned that Rick Carlisle said the Pacers were going to play a different style of offense next year. Do you know what this style is and how it differs from last year? I personally hope it is a little more up-tempo to show off the talents of Jamaal Tinsley, Jonathan Bender and Fred Jones in the full court. (Brian from Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Answer: I asked Carlisle that question at the time and he didn't give an answer. But I'm guessing the team will play a faster tempo. Carlisle knows Tinsley better now than before last season and no doubt trusts him more. Stephen Jackson, Bender and Jones will have significant roles in the offense and are suited to an up-tempo game. Ron Artest and Jermaine O'Neal, who were the focal points of last season's halfcourt offense, would prefer a faster pace, too.
Question: We have heard all of the talk about the summer league and how players are working out all over the country. What has not been addressed is your conditioning in the off-season. You were criticized globally (not meaning Sekou Smith's frame) for your lack of mobility as Shawn Bradley took full advantage of you and your laptop. What has your off-season conditioning program consisted of? (D.C. from Indianapolis)
Answer: To the contrary, I showed amazing alertness and agility to get out of the way of Bradley's awkward dive into the scorer's table. I was light on my feet, executing a move that put the greatest of bullfighters to shame.
However, I must admit my off-season training program has been sporadic. I work out a few days a week at the health club and swing a golf club, but haven't done anything to improve my footwork. Therefore, I plan to cover next season's Pacers-Mavericks games from the press room to avoid a reunion with Mr. Bradley.
Question: What is the status of Antonio Davis? Could he fit into the Pacers' plans? It seems like he's wasting away in Chicago. (Michael from Tipton, Ind.)
Answer: Davis is Chicago's highest-paid player, due $27 million over the next two seasons. He turns 36 on Oct. 31, and given his injury problems of the past couple of seasons it's unlikely he'll be able to live up to his salary. He's another example of Toronto's dilemma. The Raptors often have to over-pay players to re-sign them. They also made a major offer to Austin Croshere, which the Pacers had to beat to re-sign him in 2000.
Still, Davis is a mature veteran who would be a welcome addition to any team. He has told people he wishes he had never left the Pacers. He probably would be happy to finish his career here, although his wife's family lives in the Chicago area and they appear to enjoy living there.
Given his salary, however, it would be difficult for the Pacers to acquire him and fit him into their payroll structure. There's a better chance of them bringing back Dale Davis next summer, when he is a free agent and can be signed for a much lower salary than he's earning now ($10 million). He turns 36 in March. (I think that'd be nice)
Question: How would a Shawn Bradley-Scot Pollard trade work out? It gives the Pacers a big man who blocks shots and could get some rebounds. (Phill from Brussels, Belgium)
Answer: The salaries don't match closely enough. Pollard will be paid $5.8 million this season and Bradley will receive $4 million.
Question: It seemed the Mavericks gave up very little to acquire Erick Dampier. Couldn't the Pacers put together a combination of players and/or picks that would have matched or been better than Dallas' offer? (Tim from Miami, Fla.)
Answer: The Pacers could have given the Warriors more talent than the Mavericks did, but Chris Mullin did not want long-term contracts. He received first-round draft picks and some cash. He took on Eduardo Najera's contract, which has four years remaining, but was able to unload Evan Eschmeyer's bloated contract in return. That trade was about economics for the Warriors.
Also, the Pacers were not willing to give Dampier a seven-year contract worth more than $70 million. They would have given him big money for fewer years, however.
Question: What do you think about the Pacers adding some bulk to their front line by signing Marcus Fizer? He was Jamaal Tinsley's teammate in college. Although he has not had the best career in the NBA thus far, on the right team (Pacers) he could add another big body and some much needed toughness to the frontline to match up with the likes of Detroit. (Patrick from Fishers, Ind.)
Answer: I regarded Fizer as an underrated player in Chicago. He always seemed to play well against the Pacers, at least. But he's a forward (6-8, 260), so it would be difficult to work him into the lineup. He's got one year left on a contract that will pay him $4.9 million this season, so he's certainly a tradeable player.
I'm guessing he'll get a lot of playing time with the Charlotte Bobcats, however, and they would be reluctant to trade him. He also has legal issues for carrying a handgun.