Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: With Foster still hurting, Pacers may eye frontcourt help

With Foster still hurting, Pacers may eye frontcourt help

March 8, 2012 - The plan all along was to nurse Jeff Foster along, keep his minutes modest and make sure the veteran would be as ready as possible for the playoffs.

That still is the plan, although there are a few new wrinkles.

For the second time this season, Foster has undergone a procedure to alleviate the pain in his lower back. Last time it happened, he missed almost a month. How long it will take this time remains to be seen although it sounds like they're going to be even more cautious bringing him back.

"We're kind of in the same position we were two months ago, had a couple more shots and we're kind of in a wait-and-see period to see how they play out," Foster said. "I've been dealing with this for awhile so it's not like it's a new thing. It's frustrating to see it takes longer to recover from it. Obviously, that happens when you get older. Things take awhile and you've just got to be patient with it."

Lou Amundson has performed well as the primary backup center, averaging 5.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes in the last five games. But at 6-9, 225, Amundson is better suited to matchup with power forwards, not centers. Jeff Pendergraph (6-9, 240) has a little more bulk but his playing time has been much more sporadic as he fell behind due to injury early in the season.

"I've got a great deal of confidence in Lou Amundson, he's been playing really good basketball for us. If we need to extend his minutes, I'm fine with that," Coach Frank Vogel said. "(Pendergraph)'s next, he's ready to go. If we have any injuries or foul trouble he can jump right in there and I feel good about what he can give us, as well."

With the trade deadline a week away, Foster's uncertain status could have an impact on the Pacers' plans. They have been linked in trade talks with the Hornets centering on Chris Kaman, but he'll be a tough get. For one, he plays for a franchise owned by the league; just ask the Lakers how tough it is to make a trade with the Hornets.

If a deal was to be made, the time would've been when Kaman was told to stay home by the Hornets because he didn't fit in the plans. Since returning to the starting lineup he has played very well and, with Eric Gordon still sidelined, might just be the Hornets' most valuable healthy asset. That could very well raise the asking price beyond reason.

"The great thing about the way we've got our organization and our front office set up is I've got a great deal of faith and confidence in Larry (Bird) and David Morway and whatever they feel they need, it's their team," Vogel said. "I'm just here to coach it."

Before the season began, when Foster was hurting and Pendergraph was out, the Pacers made the move to acquire Amundson from Golden State for Brandon Rush. With Foster still hurting, they may be inclined to make another move to bolster the frontcourt, at the right price.

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