By Mark Montieth
October 8, 2004
The spirit is still willing. Now the body appears more able, too.
Reggie Miller was among the last players to leave the Conseco Fieldhouse practice court Thursday after participating in a shooting drill with Austin Croshere and Anthony Johnson.
That's pretty much standard procedure after an Indiana Pacers workout. Less standard is Miller's health, which is better than at any time in the past two seasons.
Miller suffered a severely sprained ankle during an exhibition with the U.S. World Championship team in August 2002. After missing the first 12 games, he played the rest of the next season, then had offseason surgery. He played all but two games last season, sitting out the final one as a precautionary measure before the playoffs.
Now for the first time since the 2001-02 season, when he averaged 16.5 points, he has no health concerns.
"I feel stronger," he said. "It's always been about keeping strength in my legs."
Miller said earlier in the week that he plans to be more aggressive on offense this season. He averaged 10 points last season, matching his rookie output for a career low. He doesn't want to predict a scoring average, but after three days of camp he sees no reason he can't be more productive.
"The last few years my job description has been really easy," he said. "Keep my man in front (on defense), make the open pass and make wide-open shots.
"I want to be more aggressive this year, and I can now. I can get in the paint and try to get to the free throw line. A lot like Ron (Artest) does. Ron gets us into the bonus early because of his aggressive style. I want to try to impact the defense a little more and get us into the bonus early in quarters."
Rothstein back in Miami
Former Pacers assistant Ron Rothstein landed on his feet in the best place possible.
Rothstein, who spent one season with the Pacers, was hired by Miami coach Stan Van Gundy in September. His contract with the Pacers had expired, and his status was in doubt after coach Rick Carlisle added longtime friend Kevin O'Neill to his staff.
Rothstein was the Heat's head coach for three seasons beginning in 1988 and Detroit's head coach in the 1992-93 season. He returned to Miami as coach and general manager of the WNBA Sol for three seasons before the franchise folded in 2003.
"We're a veteran team, so we wanted to add somebody with head coaching experience," Van Gundy said. "I want him to watch the game like a head coach would and make suggestions."
It's an easy shift for Rothstein. Not only does he join a team that acquired Shaquille O'Neal, he moves back to the home he has maintained since his days with the Sol. His two sons and two grandchildren live nearby and he recently moved his mother to the city.
"I'll just take it all in," Rothstein said of his role. "I'll look at it through the eyes of an ex-head coach. I'm here to give ideas and help in any way I can, similar to what I did with the Pacers."
One a day
A new agreement between the NBA and the Players' Association limits what coaches can do during training camp, so Carlisle has decided to simplify his schedule and practice once a day.
The Pacers did not practice Thursday evening and will not practice in the evening today or Saturday, either.
Teams are permitted to conduct two practices for the first five days, but only one may be full contact. The second is limited to drills, strategies, video and conditioning.
"The way they have this time situation now, it works better to do it this way," Carlisle said.
Artest practiced Thursday but left immediately afterward to fly to New York for his maternal grandmother's funeral, which will be today. . . . Carlisle said he is not likely to reduce his 18-man roster before Monday's opening preseason game at Ball State.