COACH: Jim O'Brien | 2006-07: 49-33
Indiana Pacers

O'Neal remains in a Pacer uniform.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images
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 a Shawne Williams arrest this summer 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."
--Jeff Brody


Backcourt
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 "I've 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.


Frontcourt
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 told pacers.com.

Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster are solid if under-skilled players at the center position.
-- Jeff Brody
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O'Neal
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 STAT
.158 The Pacers winning percentage last season when giving up 100 or more points to their opponent (6-32).
JIM O'BRIEN
O'Brien
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 on winning. "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 mark.

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 than Carlisle.

He will open it up a little more. I would say he knows Jermaine O'Neal is 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
PG - Jamaal Tinsley: His night-to-night unreliability and his fragility can just sink a fantasy team.
SG - Mike Dunleavy: He's unpredictable, but he's now in an offense that might suit his strengths.
SF - Danny Granger: He's the one Pacer clearly on the rise get him now before he's gone.
PF - Jermaine O'Neal: Will he be traded? Will he stay healthy? Will he be on your fantasy team?
C - Troy Murphy: Expect more of the same out from Murphy - average production from a center.
Pacers Fantasy Preview | Fantasy Home
Record: 30-52, 15th in Eastern Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: J. O'Neal, 22.9 PPG
Rebounding Leader: J. Foster, 10.3 RPG
Assist Leader: J. Tinsley, 6.7 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Jamaal Tinsley
12.8 3.3 6.9
SG Danny Granger 13.9 4.6 1.4
SF Mike Dunleavy 14.1 5.7 1.1
PF Jermaine O'Neal 19.4 9.6 2.4
C Troy Murphy 10.3 6.1 1.9

PG Travis Diener 3.8 0.7 1.3
SG Kareem Rush 10.1 2.2 1.1
SF Marquis Daniels 7.1 1.8 1.3
PF Ike Diogu 6.2 3.4 0.4
C Jeff Foster 4.3 8.1 0.8
G Travis Diener Free Agent
G Kareem Rush Free Agent
F Stephen Graham Free Agent
G Andre Owens Free Agent
F Maceo Baston Free Agent
F Michael Sweetney Free Agent
F Orien Greene Waived
Points Scored 95.6 (24th)
Points Allowed 98.0 (12th)
Field-Goal Percentage .438 (30th)
Opponents' FG% .457 (18th)
Rebounding Diff. +0.20 (13th)
NBA Seasons: 31
Playoff Appearances: 18
NBA Finals Appearances: 1
Championships: 0
Best Season: 2003-04, 61-21
Season/Home Opener:
Oct. 31 vs. Washington (7:00 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip(s):
5 games in 8 days: Jan. 6-13
@ LAL, @ UTA, @ PHX, @ SAC, @ GSW
Longest Home Stand(s):
4 games in 8 days: Jan. 29 Feb. 5
DET, HOU, ORL, SAS
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