The Indiana Pacers will try to turn the corner on what has been a train
wreck the past few seasons. Franchise
player Jermaine O'Neal has been involved in ugly trade rumors for many
months, though talk appears to have settled down as of lately. Other players
have had off-court, er, "issues," including
which resulted in a three-game suspension. Still others, including Marquis
Daniels, are stewing
in the frustration
of injury. The Pacers just can't seem
to get their feet underneath them.
Indiana was in good shape for the playoffs until the end of last season,
when they dropped like an anchor into a deep abyss.
On the bright side, the Pacers do have some talent, and new coach Jim O'Brien
is hoping to pull things together enough to make the playoffs. "We will
establish the priorities of what is important for our team to do well in
order to make the playoffs," O'Brien
told pacers.com. "There will be a way for them to understand that
nothing good ever happens unless there's hard work involved."
Jamaal Tinsley puts up decent numbers (11.6 PPG, 6.3 APG) but the Pacers
seem to be more excited about newly signed free agent backup point guard
Travis Diener. Diener, who teamed with Dwayne Wade at Marquette, played
the past two seasons in Orlando.
Kareem Rush, who also signed with the team in the
offseason, recently told the Columbia Missourian
got a chance to fight for a starting position. I'm definitely
going to see heavy minutes. I'm
excited about the opportunity and hopefully I can take advantage of it.”
Shooting guard Danny Granger is a talented young player, but needs more
time to develop into a consistent impact player. Mike Dunleavy and Marquis
Daniels are also available as swingmen.
Jermaine O'Neal has clearly been unhappy about his situation with the team,
but has recently said he wants to be nowhere else than playing for the Pacers.
O'Neal is only
29 and can still be an All-Star caliber player, but he may need extra motivation
to provide peak performance.
As in years past, the Pacers are still looking for another big man to shore
up their frontcourt.
A decent shot-blocker with great athleticism, seven-footer David
Harrison could mesh well with O'Brien's up-tempo offensive system. "I'm
optimistic. I like the coaching staff. I think we're going to have a real
competitive style," Harrison
Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster are solid if under-skilled players at the center
-- Jeff Brody
Get great seats to all 45 home games in the Pacers' new Pepsi Big Slam Corner for just $299.
Reports surfaced all summer implying that Jermaine O'Neal wanted to be traded
from the Pacers. Owner Donnie Walsh and team President Larry Bird went to great
lengths to convince O'Neal that the team is not in a rebuilding phase, which
would make him want out. Instead, they have taken steps to build complimentary
pieces around O'Neal.
Apparently O'Neal is convinced, at least for now. "I see it that way," he
recently told pacers.com. "When you look at the makeup of our team ...we
patched areas we just didn't have the previous year."
As for the persistent trade rumors, O'Neal continued, "To me, there's going
to be no more discussion about any trades ... I don't want to be talking about
it because if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I want to concentrate
on the guys we have ... I want to be here. I want to be a Pacer."
With Coach Jim O'Brien aiming straight for the playoffs, all hopes are that the
O'Neal offseason trade distraction will be old news by opening night.
-- Jeff Brody
||The Pacers winning percentage last season when giving up 100 or more points to
their opponent (6-32).
Sixth Season, First with Indiana
Career Record: 182-158 (.535)
Playoff Record: Two times, 13-13 (.500)
Coming into any new situation can be tough. Multiply that by the off-court
troubles that the Indiana Pacers have had over the past several years,
and it makes you think Jim O'Brien is one brave man.
O'Brien hopes to bring some discipline to the team, and get everyone focused
"This is all about winning," he told ESPN. "We would all
be disappointed if we're not in the playoffs (this) year."
To do that, he will need to bring more than discipline. He'll need to improve
on a team that was last in the league in field goal percentage (.438).
O'Brien is known for a free-flowing, up-tempo offensive philosophy. Some
players, such as Jermaine O'Neal, should stand to benefit from the style
by getting fast break or early offense opportunities.
O'Brien is also known as a tough coach who develops good relationships
with his players. If the team responds well to his style, look for the
Pacers to indeed make significant improvements this season.
-- Jeff Brody
KNOW YOUR PACERS
Pacers center Troy Murphy lists Oh, The Places You'll Go!
by Dr. Seuss as his favorite book.
They have had a lot of adverse things happen to them
in the last couple of years. I don't know if you call it rebuilding but they are definitely not
as good as they were a few years ago. Jermaine O'Neal is still one of the
elite players in the NBA. But after that, there is a definite question
Their biggest issue is top to bottom their talent is just not that good.
Rick Carlisle is an excellent coach. Sometimes the NBA, especially when
your talent level goes down, sometimes you need to make a change to have a
different voice. Jim O'Brien is a very good coach too. He will be different
He will open it up a little more. I would say he knows Jermaine O'Neal
his bread and butter. He is a very solid defensive coach but so is
Carlisle. It is a different philosophy but they are not totally different
kinds of coaches.
-- Eastern Conference Scout