COACH: Rick Carlisle | 2005-06: 41-41
Indiana Pacers

Indiana's success depends on Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley being suited up.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
The Pacers have turned to an old friend to help them rebound from last year’s 41-41 campaign.

Al Harrington, one of the cornerstones of Indiana’s 61-win team of 2003-04, was reacquired from Atlanta in August . Getting reacquainted with his old teammates shouldn’t take long; only Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Jeff Foster remain.

This offseason marked the departure of several long-time Pacers. Anthony Johnson, Scot Pollard, Austin Croshere, Jonathan Bender and Fred Jones were all traded, released or signed elsewhere. All-Star Peja Stojakovic won’t return either; He went to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade.

Losing Stojakovic wasn’t part of the plan – he’s one of the game’s premier shooters – but Peja’s depature allows Danny Granger to play at his preferred position and gave the Pacers enough cap flexibility to sign Harrington.

Harrington may be a better fit that Stojakovic with Indiana’s new personnel philosophy. Though they refuse to call it rebuilding – and rightfully so, with O’Neal, Stephen Jackson and Harrington leading the way - Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird are making a conscious effort to re-tool Indiana’s roster with versatile, relentless athletic players who can play both ends of the floor and contribute at multiple positions.

Marquis Daniels, who was acquired from Dallas for Croshere, is a perfect prototype. The 6-6 swingman can also play the point -- a nice insurance policy against another injury to starter Tinsley. Rookies Shawne Williams, 6-9, and guard James White, 6-7 are also lean, athletic specimens who will allow the Pacers to play fast, energetic, defensive-minded basketball. Maceo Baston, signed from Maccabi Tel Aviv, fits the same mold.

Darrell Armstrong, 38, was acquired for an entirely different reason. Bird talked at the end of last season about changing the team’s attitude and chemistry. In Armstrong, the Pacers locker room once again has a nurturing veteran presence who can mentor young players the way veterans like Reggie Miller, Sam Perkins and Derrick McKey looked after Harrington and O’Neal.

Indiana’s reconstruction, made necessary by the team’s two-year Ron Artest-induced implosion, seems well-conceived; it’s hard to bet against the braintrust of Walsh, Bird and Head Coach Rick Carlisle.

Expect the Pacers to be the Eastern Conference’s snake in the grass. So much change, not to mention starting with 13-of-19 games on the road, may lead to some early struggles. When April comes around, though, don’t be surprised to see the Pacers touted as 'the team nobody wants to play.'

-- Bill Evans

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Trusting Tinsley

Tinsley
The Pacers would love to count on Jamaal Tinsley, but can they?

Over the past three seasons, he’s missed nearly as many games (112) as he has played (134), and it’s not just one injury. Last year, he was sidelined on four different occasions with a quad, a bicep (twice) and an Achilles. When he did play, he was less than 100 percent and the results were underwhelming.

In 2004-05, he showed flashes of what he can provide the Pacers, averaging career-bests of 15.4 points and 2.03 steals a game in addition to his 6.4 assists before missing most of the second half.

This year, the Pacers have stockpiled players who can play the point – Marquis Daniels, Darrell Armstrong, Orion Greene, James White – but Tinsley’s strength, energy and quickness are paramount if Indiana’s new-look offense is going to succeed.

-- Bill Evans

31
THE STAT
The 2005-06 Indiana Pacers team used 31 different starting lineup combinations. The lineup of Peja Stojakovic, Jeff Foster, Scot Pollard, Anthony Johnson and Stephen Jackson made the most starts (17), going 10-7.
X&O STRENGTH

Carlisle
Jermaine O'Neal needs to be what he is, and that’s the best big in the Eastern Conference...Daniels gives them size who can play three positions to enter the ball into Jermaine and Darrell Armstong brings them veteran leadership that this team really hasn’t had in a long time.

X&O WEAKNESS
They are going to look to him to be able to light a fire under the likes of Jermaine O’Neal...Lucky for Rick, the Ron Artest era is over but with that comes the challenge of working in new players Al Harrington (one of the better free-agent acquisitions), and Marquis Daniels.

HEAD COACH PHILOSOPHY
The first thing you think of Rick is poise, calm and demeanor which I really respect in a head coach...He knows what it's like to win, having won only 60 percent of his games as a pro coach.

-- John Gabriel (courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association)

They've turned over their roster almost completely.
A lot of their success depends on the health of Jermaine O'Neal. Obviously, with Jermaine healthy, they'll stay in games all the time.
I'm just not a Jamaal Tinsley fan. He's so inconsistent.
It's going to take the team a while for everybody to find their identity and what's going on because they have a ton of new players.
The team will still play defense.
Rick is a good coach. He runs things and they do execute.
Even if they're healthy, I still don't see them finishing any higher than fourth in their division. I don't see them overtaking Detroit, Cleveland or Chicago.

-- Eastern Conference Scout

Al Harrington: A fresh start in Indiana with eligibility at both small forward and power forward should bode well.
Jamaal Tinsley: His injury history is too extensive to feel safe selecting him as your point guard.
Head coach Rick Carlisle will explore new territory this season as he will switch the offense from his brand of basketball (slow it down) to an up-tempo, slashing, fast-break offense that will let the Pacers use their athleticism to their advantage. They have a stud in Jermaine O’Neal, a nice secondary player in Al Harrington, a sleeper in Danny Granger and a serviceable shooting guard in Stephen Jackson. This goes with plenty of decent picks in the later rounds too (see Jasikevicius, Daniels, Foster). Owners can expect fantasy production to be on the rise for the Pacers this season.
-- Taylor Eldridge
Pacers Fantasy Preview
PLAYER/2005-06 STATS
PPG
RPG
APG
PG
9.3
3.2
5.0
SG
16.4
3.9
2.8
SF
18.6
6.9
3.1
PF
20.1
9.3
2.6
C
5.9
9.1
0.8
G
2.1
1.3
1.4
G
10.2
3.6
2.8
F
7.5
4.9
1.2
C
5.7
3.8
0.2
G
7.3
2.0
3.0
G
Lithuania
G
Trade
F
Free Agent
G
Trade
C
Trade
F
Trade
G-F
Trade
F
Trade
G-F
Draft
F
Draft
F
Waived
F
Trade
G
Free Agent
G
Trade
G
Free Agent
C-F
Free Agent
F
Trade
PPG
20.1
RPG
9.3
APG
5.0
SPG
1.28
BPG
2.29
Points Scored
93.9
(23rd)
Points Allowed
92.0
(5th)
Field-Goal Percentage
.444
(24th)
Opponents' FG%
.435
(4th)
Rebounding Diff.
+0.89
(11th)
2001-02: 42-40, Third, Central Division
1996-97: 39-43, Sixth, Central Division
1986-87: 41-41, Fourth, Central Division
1981-82: 35-47, Fourth, Central Division
Best NBA Season: 2003-04, 61-21
Best ABA Season: 1969-70, ABA Champs
Season Opener:
Nov. 1 at CHA (7:00 p.m. ET, FSI)
Home Opener:
Nov. 3 vs. NOK (7:00 p.m. ET, FSI)
Longest Road Trip:
6 games in 9 days: Nov. 26-Dec. 4
TOR, POR, GSW, SEA, DEN, LAL
Longest home stand(s):
6 games in 17 days: Feb. 5-21
GSW, SEA, DEN, LAC, MEM, MIL
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