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My beloved Pacers: Ugh(?)(!)Posted Friday, October 23, 2009, at 1:27 PM
A once proud franchise, now it almost feels like the Indiana Pacers have officially hit rock bottom.
The only place to go from here is up and forward.
But the possibility of that happening this year may not be all that great.
Last year, the Pacers finished 36-46. They have not had a winning record since the 2004-05 season when they finished at 44-38.
Heading into this year, the roster is a mixed bag of team veterans and newcomers.
Gone (finally) is Jamaal Tinsley, whom the team waived in the offseason. In addition, the Pacers chose not to resign Marquis Daniels -- who is now a Boston Celtic. Tinsley has yet to sign with a squad.
Back this year are Travis Diener, Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Brandon Rush.
In the offseason, the Pacers signed Earl Watson, Luther Head and Solomon Jones.
From the draft, they picked up North Carolina standout Tyler Hansbrough and former Connecticut guard A.J. Price.
Last year, Granger led the team, averaging close to 26 points per game. Murphy also tallied a double-double, scoring 14.3 points per game while grabbing 11.8 rebounds.
Dunleavy, barring any setbacks due to an injury from last year, will provide a catalyst either in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.
In addition, Rush has made great strides since coming to the squad and Hibbert appears ready to blossom in the middle.
In the past few years, the franchise has let go of several players who found themselves in trouble with the law, including Tinsley, Daniels, Shawne Williams and Stephen Jackson, and replaced them with hard-nosed tough players who seem willing to do the dirty work, what it takes to win games.
But that doesn't change the fact that the Pacers have missed the NBA playoffs three straight years.
And getting back to the playoffs will be just as difficult this year.
But now, the Pacers are having more difficulty with other things.
For several years, the NBA franchise has played second fiddle to a more lucrative professional sports team.
The Indianapolis Colts.
When Reggie Miller graced the court at Market Square Arena and Conseco Fieldhouse, the Pacers were on top in Indy.
Remember when the Pacers drafted Miller? The crowd booed. They wanted Indiana to draft favorite son, Steve Alford, who had just helped the Indiana Hoosiers win yet another NCAA Championship.
Drafting Miller turned out to be the best thing this franchise could have done.
But things have certainly changed in the past few years, although at times, it feels like things changed overnight.
And it shows.
The Pacers have had trouble filling the seats in recent seasons and no matter who they bring in to play for the team, they can't seem to sell out Conseco.
Indiana has a great cornerstone to build upon with Granger and Murphy -- who played collegiately at Notre Dame -- is a fan favorite.
Rush and Hibbert both have upsides and Dunleavy is a great role player.
McRoberts, for that matter, is a homegrown boy, having played high school hoops in Indianapolis.
If things don't turn around fast this season, Jim O'Brien could be looking for a new job.
For that matter, if things don't turn around this season, Indiana's own Larry Bird may be looking for a new job.
As a long-time Pacers fan, I keep hoping every year they turn the corner and take off full-speed ahead.
But alas, I just don't see it happening this year.
At least Sundays will be spent in front of the tube checking out any available NFL game.
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