I like how he is critical of ESPN. ESPN is a disgrace to TV. Too bad another all sports giant could not come along and put ESPN in its place. One eastern conference GM thinks a Artest for Peja deal will get done
Question: Mark, I have tried to support Ron Artest through the thick and thin, but he is not making a case for himself. What is he thinking? Is this just a stunt to sell albums? This is almost as bad as a Dennis Rodman incident.
But hey, Coach Carlisle did the right thing in benching Artest. With all the injuries the Pacers have, you have to respect how professional he has handled the Artest situation. I don't care if Carlisle had to lie to cover it up. Keep it in the family.
There was no need for the press to blow this out of proportion. I think the bigger news was that it was the Pacers' first loss and how big the loss was to the Clippers. I applaud Carlisle for his values.
Has Artest overstayed his welcome in Indiana? Chicago put up with Rodman and still won championships. What could we get for a player like Artest? I think he might be more comfortable in a city like LA. (Phill from Brussels, Belgium)
Answer: It's very difficult to put this recent episode into perspective. What we know is that he asked for time off in some manner, obviously inappropriately. So he got benched for two games. Then he complicated the issue by failing to express himself clearly before the game with the Clippers on Wednesday.
He did not, as I reported Friday, ask for a month off to work on an album, as was construed from his comments on Wednesday. Don't get me started on how ESPN and other national media outlets handled the story. It's obviously a big story, but was wildly overblown in some places.
Here's one thing to consider: Artest was benched for two games for saying or doing something inappropriate in the team environment. Marcus Fizer was caught carrying an illegal handgun and was suspended for one game. But Artest was the subject of the first 15 minutes or more on SportsCenter and Fizer was a brief. Strange.
I don't know if he's overstayed his welcome. It really doesn't matter what the fans or media members think of that, it only matters what his teammates think. And I would guess there's some difference of opinion on that. None of the players have voiced a desire to get him traded, however. That doesn't mean they don't feel that way, but I don't know of it yet.
They couldn't get equal value for him now anyway. Most people I've talked to within the Pacers organization consider Artest much better than Peja Stojakovic, so even that might not be a good trade. And a championship contender doesn't want to make bad trades.
But it can be argued that Artest is too much a distraction and could hinder the team's effort to win a title. But then again, we aren't the ones to decide if he's a distraction, and he's clearly a greater distraction to the outside world than the Pacers.
I would argue he's a lesser distraction than Rodman and even other players who don't get in trouble but are selfish and egotistical in their style of play. It's a very complicated issue.
Question: Not to sound too much like Bob Kravitz ... but if the Pacers tried to move Ron Artest, do you think there are definitely takers out there willing to take on his risks? One that comes to mind is Isiah Thomas, who seems to love to tinker with the Knicks. I'm not sure what they have the Pacers would want in return, though. (Steve from Santa Ana, Calif.)
Answer: It would be interesting to see what the Pacers could get for Artest, if they wanted to trade him. I'm sure it would vary widely from team to team, as GMs would have different outlooks. Thomas, I believe, would want him. But as you point out, what do the Knicks have that the Pacers want?
They'd love to give up Shandon Anderson and the salaries match closely enough, but I can't see the Pacers doing that. They probably could get Kurt Thomas for him, too, but that also would be a much better deal for the Knicks.
The Pacers have a chance to win a title, and Larry Bird isn't going to want to make an obviously bad deal that could come back to haunt the team later. The most rumored deal is for Peja Stojakovic. Bird might be willing to do that, but would the Kings?
Rumors are starting to flow again, with at least one Eastern Conference GM saying privately that he believes that deal will get done. We'll see.
Question: Have there been any talks about the Pacers trading for Eddy Curry, who has talked of his displeasure with the Bulls? He would be what we need to get the ring. (Ryan from Shelbyville, Ind.)
Answer: I have heard no talks of that. You have to ask yourself, if the Bulls don't want him, could he really help the Pacers? So far he's an underachiever.
I see your point, though. Curry has a lot of raw talent and a change of environment could help him. He might make a good backup center at this stage of his career. But he's making "just" $3.7 million this season and would be tough to trade for that reason.
The Pacers don't have anyone whose salary matches his. They could trade Fred Jones and Jamaal Tinsley for him, but that would make no sense.
Question: Donnie Walsh recently said he felt that former Pacer Mark Jackson would make a great NBA coach. I noticed Jackson is not active on any NBA roster this year. Do you know what he is up to? Perhaps coaching? (Deb from Indianapolis)
Answer: Walsh has said that for several years, and I agree with him. Jackson is very bright and a natural leader. He seems to have the potential to succeed in coaching. I happened to ask Reggie Miller about Jackson before the game against the Clippers. Miller said Jackson wants to play again if he gets the right opportunity, but for now he's doing some work for ESPN.
It will be interesting to see if Jackson gets a chance to be a head coach, or if he has to start as an assistant. He's got a strong personality, so I think it would be difficult for him to be an assistant. He has told me he would be willing to become a college head coach, but he prefers the NBA.
Question: I have a fairly irrelevant question but one that is bothering me nonetheless. When Brad Miller was here both he and Reggie Miller had to wear their first initials on their jerseys.
Both James Jones and Fred Jones simply have Jones on the back of their jerseys. Are they easier to tell apart than Brad and Reggie were?
Why don't they have the first initials? I certainly don't mind and would not want to mess up Freddie's increasingly nice shooting touch, but I was wondering if there was a rule and if so why we are ignoring it. If not, why did Reggie and Brad need to do that? (Dan from Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Answer: This is a good question, and I haven't thought of it. Seems like other issues have taken precedence lately.
I'll check into it, though. I would guess a team official decided the first initials weren't necessary. I know some people didn't think Reggie should have to have an R. stitched on his jersey given his status with the franchise, but it didn't bother him.
Question: Alonzo Mourning wants out of New Jersey. Do you think the Pacers would have any interest? I am of the opinion the Pacers need a big physical presence. I know Mourning is minutes limited, but I feel he could help. (Gary from Houston, Texas)
Answer: I agree, Mourning could be a major asset -- at least as a backup center. But at what price? He's making $5.4 million this year and is due more than $12 million over the next two seasons. That's a huge risk for someone with his health problems. If you could get him for a more reasonable price it would make sense. The Pacers would have to trade for him, so they would be giving up talent as well.
Question: What's up with all the injuries? Does the team not have a conditioning and flexibility coach? It's obvious they know how to build a player's strength (i.e. Jermaine O'Neal's new frame, and Jonathan Bender's new physique), but my guess is it won't be long before Jamaal Tinsley goes down with some type of injury. On another note, the NBA injured list is starting to build the same momentum as the NFL's. (Jeremy from Providence, R.I.)
Answer: The Pacers have the standard array of coaches. Most of the injuries have been freakish, and couldn't be prevented by any method of training. Reggie Miller and Anthony Johnson suffered broken hands. Jeff Foster was hurt in a pickup game in the summer. O'Neal was injured in a workout.
One could argue a muscle strain or injury of that sort could be the result of insufficient training, but it's really difficult to quantify. As for Tinsley, he got hurt in the opener at Cleveland, suffering a neck injury when he collided with Tractor Traylor. But he hasn't missed in any games.
Question: So ... Primoz Brezec's first game he gets 15 points and nine rebounds and then in his second game he leads the Bobcats to victory with 20 points and 10 rebounds. And we let this guy rot on the bench for years? Huh? What am I missing? (Jamie from Indianapolis)
Answer: I'm sure a lot of fans are wondering the same thing. Brezec was respected by the Pacers, but they didn't believe he was as good as Jeff Foster, Jermaine O'Neal and Scot Pollard. Pollard didn't play much last season and Brezec was in line behind him.
The Pacers were hoping not to lose Brezec in the expansion draft, but I'm sure most of the people in the organization are surprised by how well he's playing. He would be a great asset to the team now with all the injuries, but if everyone was healthy, who would play?
Question: Hello fellow Pike High School alum. I remember you saying you played varsity basketball for the Red Devils. Did you play for Ed Siegel? Also, do you think you would have made the Pike teams that won state titles in 1998, 2001, and 2003? (Eric from Indianapolis)
Answer: I did play for Mr. Siegel, graduating in 1973. But I'm not among the baby boomers who think the players of today are worse than those of our era. I seriously doubt I would have made the state title teams.
But then it's difficult to compare eras. If I had been in school in later years I would have had more opportunities to improve and been a much better player. When I played, the IHSAA didn't allow high school kids to be coached in the off-season, and Pike didn't open the gym to athletes.
That was a great frustration to me. I'd go over to the school's outdoor court in the parking lot hoping to play, but a lot of nights nobody else showed up. I spent a lot of time shooting around when I should have gone to a park in another school district and played.
Also, weight training and conditioning programs were not common for high school players then. The game is far more advanced now, on every level.