Indiana Pacers

Harrison started 14 games for the Pacers in 2004-05.
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 17, No. 46
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Austin Croshere (player has right to terminate contract)
Dale Davis (unrestricted)
John Edwards (restricted)
James Jones (restricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 29. David Harrison, Colorado
59. Rashad Wright, Georgia
2003: 49. James Jones, Miami
2002: 14. Fred Jones, Oregon
2001: 41. Jamison Brewer, Auburn
2000: 27. Primoz Brezec, Slovenia
56. Jacquay Wells, Colorado
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Coming off of a 61-21 season, the biggest question was whether or not Ron Artest could toe the line for an entire season, thus eliminating the biggest obstacle between the Pacers and a trip to the NBA Finals.

What happened? It didnít take long for circumstances to put Artestís maturity to the test. The events of November 19 in Detroit proved he still has a long way to go.

The year-long suspension of Artest, and the extended absences of Jermaine OíNeal and Stephen Jackson forced the organization to recalibrate its goals for 2004-05. Rather than competing for an NBA title, the under-manned Pacers found themselves in an uphill battle just to make the playoffs.

Though it came at a costly price, Rick Carlisle was afforded the long-term benefit of allowing his role players to assume more responsibility. Youngsters like David Harrison, James Jones and Fred Jones were thrust into starting assignments and were among 10 players to lead the team in scoring at least once.

A home loss to Toronto on February 2 dropped the Pacers to 20-24, their low-water mark. But the return of OíNeal and Jackson, the hastened development of the role players and an inspired stretch run from Reggie Miller helped the team finish the second half 24-18 to earn the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Miller was spectacular. Expected to play a secondary role in his 17th and final season, he responded with his best season since 2001-02, averaging 14.8 points per game. Naturally, he raised his game at crunch time, averaging 18.4 points over the final two months of the season.

After upsetting Boston in first round of the playoffs, Indiana took a 2-1 lead vs. Detroit. The defending champions won three straight to eliminate Indiana on its home floor, where Miller displayed his greatness one final time with 27 points in his final NBA game.

What now? The Pacers should average age should take a precipitous drop with the departure of Miller, 39, and the expiring contract of Dale Davis, 36.

Though they lose a Hall of Famer in Miller, the return of Artest makes the Pacers a better team already, even before they address needs with the 17th pick.

They project to be one of the deepest teams in the league with starters Jamaal Tinsley, Artest, Jackson and OíNeal and Jeff Foster under contract, as well as reserves Anthony Johnson, Fred Jones, Harrison, Scot Pollard and Austin Croshere.

They could be seeking three-point shooting. They were only 34 percent a year ago, and must replace the best perimeter shooter in NBA history. Depth at point guard, where Tinsley and Johnson both missed substantial time because of injury, may also be in the Pacers plans.