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Mark Montieth: Pacers Q&A
Indianapolis Star sports reporter Mark Montieth answers your questions about the Pacers.
February 10, 2005
Question: Do you have any thoughts as to why Mr. Stern would leave the door open for Ron Artest to return this season? (Jeremy from Schaumburg, Ill.)
Answer: There are several.
He might have had a change of heart after having time to review the incident in Detroit unemotionally. A lot of people in and out of the NBA believe he made a knee-jerk over-reaction. Perhaps he agrees. He also might be impressed with Artest's efforts to help himself during the suspension.
There also are political reasons. I hear that the owners are upset with him because he showed he's willing to decimate a franchise with suspensions. He might want to appease them. He also might want to appease the players association a bit heading into negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Of course he might not do anything, and leave Artest suspended for the rest of the season.
Question: What did David Harrison do to earn him all those DNP-Coach's decisions? Did he fail to deliver those donuts? I believe he is a better offensive player than Scot Pollard. And the Pacers definitely need help offensively. Do you agree? (Mark from Manila, Philippines)
Answer: Harrison got DNP-CDs in Atlanta and Washington. He's been out with a concussion and the flu, but since he's come back he's not really in shape and he's behind Jeff Foster, Jermaine O'Neal, and Pollard in the rotation at center.
The Pacers do need more offense, although Stephen Jackson addresses that when he's playing well. I don't know that Harrison is significantly better than Pollard. He shoots a better percentage from the field, but gets his shots mostly on rebounds and dunks. Both are average mid-range shooters.
Question: Given the injuries of Jonathan Bender the last few years, what do you think the Pacers will do with him? What exactly is his contract status with the Pacers? (Phill from Brussels, Belgium)
Answer: Tell all the Pacers fans in Belgium that the Pacers have little choice but to hang in there with Bender. They've invested heavily in him, and aren't going to let him get away without knowing if he'll be able to sustain good health. He has two seasons left on his contract after this one.
Question: It's painfully obvious to me, and to most people who follow the Pacers, that this year's team has already "called it a season." The suspension of Ron Artest was an emotional, and psychological death sentence to everyone.
Say what you want about Artest, but he was the heart, and soul, and identity of the Pacers, and losing him for the season was not only unfair to him personally, but to an entire team, its fans in Indiana, and, on the whole, the NBA. David Stern should be thrown out of the NBA for over-reacting, and over-reaching with his authority.
If I were a Pacer player, I'd be saying the same thing right now ... "It simply doesn't matter this year". Stern, not Artest, made sure of that. (Kevin from Montezuma, Ind.)
Answer: The Pacers haven't played well lately, but I wouldn't say they've given up on the season. All the changes in the lineup have taken their toll, not to mention the absence of suspended and injured players. Nobody from the Pacers is going to criticize the commissioner, though, because there seems to be hope that Artest will be allowed to come back this season.
Question: Who is this new Mike Wells guy? Was there an announcement in the paper about this guy? Why wasn't anything mentioned on the Web site? You need to keep the readers better informed about all the changes that keep happening at The Star. Porter, Wells in, Smith out, what's going on? (Jamie from Bloomington, Ind.)
Answer: It's only fitting that our Pacers coverage undergo a lot of changes, given the way the season has gone for the team.
Sekou Smith took a job in Atlanta, and is very happy there in case you're wondering. Mike Wells came from the St. Paul, Minn., paper. He had covered the Timberwolves. Kristen Leigh Porter was brought over from our preps coverage to help with the Pacers in the interim, and will continue to help with features. We don't usually announce staff changes, but thanks for caring.
Question: With all the controversy with Stephen Jackson this season, do you think it was worth losing Al Harrington? (Geri from Boonville, Ind.)
Answer: It's not really fair to look on that deal in hindsight right now. Harrington has played well in Atlanta, maintaining a pretty high level of consistency during a difficult time. The Hawks are a poor team, and have no hope for improvement this season.
It obviously would have been great to have Harrington with the Pacers during the suspensions, but there's no way to predict what Harrington would have done during the brawl in Detroit.
Jackson appeared to be a great acquisition early in the season. We'll have to wait to see how it looks the rest of the season and next season before passing judgment. You have to remember Harrington wanted out, so that made it much easier to trade him.
Question: How long will the losing streak go before the Pacers make some adjustments, such as a trade? Or have the Pacers just given up on this season? If that is the case, why do they continue to run the ad, stating "One Goal"? (Ted from Evansville, Ind.)
Answer: Hey, they didn't tell you what that goal was, did they? Just kidding.
The team has played a little better lately, beating Dallas and Atlanta and at least playing hard in Washington. It's safe to say they haven't given up. And I don't think they'll make a trade in response to the losing streak. As always, they'll do any deal that improves the team without damaging long-term prospects.
Question: Besides the obvious suspensions and injuries, do you think Coach Carlisle should accept more responsibility for the current slump? I found your response to the question of why the Pacers' rebounding stats are so low to be quite interesting. You said, "The Pacers' offensive style, in which players stand and watch O'Neal go one-on-one much of the time, doesn't leave players in position for offensive rebounds." That doesn't sound like a brilliant offensive strategy. (Tim from Maplewood, N.J.)
Answer: Coaches are always accountable, I'm sure he would agree. But he has a track record, both in Detroit and with the Pacers last season, so he's going to stick with his previous approaches. He likes to play the percentages, and wants to take full advantage of Jermaine O'Neal, so I don't see major changes in the offense coming. Perhaps Stephen Jackson's return and improved play will help.
Remember, he had a similar approach last season, one that Ron Artest complained about at times. But they won 61 games, so it's hard to argue with it. The offensive style might promote a lack of offensive rebounds, but that's no reason players can't crash the boards. Most of them choose to stand and watch.
I found it interesting that he says the Pacers have hope for Ron's return. Before now, they said they didn't. And it comes out the same day as an over-done charity announcement/photoshoot of our suspended players..... including Ron.