Final Report Card: Austin Croshere

by Conrad Brunner

May 16, 2003

By the Numbers: Appeared in 49 games, his fewest since the '98-99 season, and averaged 5.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. ... Was one of just two players with the team all season who did not start at least one game. Jamison Brewer was the other. ... Ranks fifth on the team's NBA list of 3-pointers made with 637. ... In eight games when he played at least 20 minutes, averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds. ... After missing just six games over the previous three seasons combined, picked up 15 DNP-CDs.

Playoffs: Produced 16 points and 17 rebounds in the first three games against Boston, but totaled just three minutes thereafter, including a pair of DNP-CDs.

Plus-Minus: During the regular season, ranked 11th at plus-39 (plus-0.8 per game). During the playoffs, ranked third at minus-4 (minus-1.0).

Contract Status: Entering the third season of a reported seven-year, $51 million contract, with a player option after the 2004-05 season.

Analysis: Few players generated more e-mail or callers to local sports-talk radio than Croshere, who was an enormously popular and productive reserve on the team that reached the NBA Finals in 2000 but has seen his playing time and effectiveness diminish each season since. Coach Isiah Thomas used Croshere and Jeff Foster in an offense-defense rotation, and more frequently went with the defense-oriented Foster. Croshere is one of the best 3-point shooters on the team and can be effective off the dribble, but is hurt by the lack of a true position. He's not big enough to play power forward regularly, and lacks the quickness for small forward. Nonetheless, he can be an effective scorer and rebounder who, when so inclined, can get to the basket and finish.

Crystal Ball: The addition of Jermaine O'Neal and the development of Al Harrington pushed Croshere deeper into the bench, and it remains to be seen if he will re-emerge. Because of his contract, he is the most frequently mentioned player in published trade rumors. But the size of the contract also makes him difficult to deal. Though he hasn't publicly asked for a trade, there is little doubt he is frustrated with his role with the Pacers. Team president Donnie Walsh needs to clear some salary in order to re-sign free agents Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller and Reggie Miller and moving Croshere would seem to be a logical step in that direction.

Final Grade: C-minus.