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Pacers Unite In Los Angeles For Offseason Training

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

August 20, 2013

For the second consecutive offseason, Pacers players and staff are voluntarily meeting in California for a few days.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel calls the bonding experience “summertime togetherness.”

“[It’s] a chance for our guys to get together, get to know each other a little more, especially the new guys,” he said. “Spend some time, get some work in in the gym with some fundamentals but also some pickup games out in L.A. … and help them start their conditioning build up towards the season. We’re about six weeks out from the start of training camp. Mostly just some togetherness and spending some time with each other and having some fun.”

The entire coaching staff, including new associate head coach Nate McMillan and assistant Popeye Jones, training staff and front office personnel is on site to support the players and help them improve their games. Over the summer, a handful of players have already worked out with the coaches.

As one would expect, there are some rules set by the league regarding offseason training.

The gathering is planned and paid for by the players, though the team is allowed to help coordinate efforts and book facilities. Pacers officials were required to submit details and receive approval from the league in advance.

The plan has the team working out twice a day – once at the Los Angeles Clippers’ practice facility and then at Loyola Marymount University.

No more than six players are allowed on the floor at the same time for an organized drill. Much of the workouts will be individual shooting drills, with the coaches there to provide guidance and ideas. They’ll also play some shooting games that even the coaches will participate in.

“A lot of teams will do that where they get three or four guys together in this city or that city,” said Vogel. “Our guys just want to be a part of everything we’re doing.”

Indiana currently has 13 players under contract. They may sign up to two more players, though their budget is tight because they are leaning up against the luxury tax threshold.

“We’ll look at it day to day as we get into came but I think we’re content going into camp with 13 guys and a few camp guys,” Vogel said. “Obviously if something comes up that makes sense then Larry [Bird] and Kevin Pritchard will go forward with that, but I think they’re happy with what we have right now.”

Of the 13 players, eight made the trip out to L.A. – most of the guards and wings. Veteran power forward David West isn’t there, as he’ll continue with his own workout on his own time. Newcomer Luis Scola is absent as well. According to Twitter, newly-signed point guard C.J. Watson has jury duty, so he’s expected to miss the gathering in L.A.

Big men Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi are in San Antonio to work with and learn from future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Former Pacers assistant coach and new Spurs lead assistant Jim Boylen, who coached Indy’s post players the past two seasons, is also involved.

Free agent signee Chris Copeland is at the workouts but his on-court activity will be limited. After having arthroscopic left knee surgery on August 2nd, he’s purposely easing his way back into physical activity to be cautious and to allow the scars to heal properly. He has already begun lifting weights and doing leg presses.

“I’m still getting to know guys and I think that’s important,” Copeland said. “Any opportunity the team is doing, I want to be around and try to get to know who I’m going to be with.”

Los Angeles is the perfect meeting location given the proximity for West Coast residents Danny Granger, Paul George, Orlando Johnson, and Solomon Hill. Having the coaching staff and eight players opt to get together during their offseason is quite impressive, but not surprising given the culture of the Pacers.

The Pacers were eager for a new season just a few days after they dropped Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Now with an improved roster that might be enough to take them to new heights, the team is even hungrier.

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