Home-and-Home With Indy Cornrows

A Daily Babble Production

Barely a month in, this has already been a strange season for the Pacers.  As we noted this morning, the Conseco crew has been far from dominant (5-10) against the part of the league that didn't play in the Finals last season, but the Pacers have already managed to shock the Celts and Lakers.  Donnie Walsh is out, leaving Larry Bird more in than ever as far as being the head honcho in the front office is concerned.  Jermaine O'Neal is gone at long last; T.J. Ford and Roy Hibbert are part of the equation.  And as Celtics fans well know, life is never dull with Jim O'Brien on the bench. 

With all that in mind and the Pacers coming to Beantown tonight, the time is ripe for a chat with my favorite Pacers writer, Tom from Indy Cornrows.  I answered some questions earlier over at IC, and Tom graciously took the time to reciprocate, thus giving you dedicated readers some respite from my endless rambling in the Babble.

SW:  We're into year two of the Obie Era in Indy.  When we chatted last spring, you seemed to be enjoying the pace and Obie's rapport with (most of) his players.  What are you feelings on the coaching thus far into the second campaign?  What are the expectations for this season?

Tom:  For this stage in the team's development, I love having Jim O'Brien as the coach.  Yes, he runs an offense that is fun to watch, but he's also demanding on the players, and they seemed to respond to him pretty well.  This is a pretty young group, and while the crazy pace finds them out of control at times, they're building a solid foundation for the future.  The main quibble is at crunch time when the free flowing offense isn't an option.  Seems like JOB doesn't offer much at this time forcing a player to step out and make a play for himself.  Danny Granger is trying but no one on the team is comfortable in that role yet.

SW:  Speaking of Celtic connections, Donnie Walsh's departure leaves Larry Bird front and center as the face of the Pacers' front office.  This summer was a busy one with the Pacers, particularly regarding the trade of Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto.  What are your initial impressions of this offseason's moves, particularly the JO deal and the draft-night acquisition of Brandon Rush?

Tom:  Larry Bird had a huge offseason and hasn't received the credit yet because he was dealing with Bryan Colangelo and Kevin Prichard, so many league observers and pundits can't bring themselves to believe the Bird may have gotten the best of them in those deals.  Regardless of how the outgoing players performed with their respective teams, the Pacers needed some cap flexibility and young talent.  So they lost Jermaine O'Neal, Ike Diogu and Jerryd Bayless in return for several players currently contributing to the Pacers.  Brandon Rush, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Jarrett Jack, Roy Hibbert, and even Josh McRoberts have all played significant roles in wins this year.

SW:  As the NBA community watches Donnie Walsh duke it out with Stephon Marbury in the Sizable Apple, it's been easy to forget about another disgruntled point guard in exile.  What's going on with Jamaal Tinsley?

Tom:  Jamaal Tinsley is quietly working out at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. I still think he'd be valuable to any of several teams that could use some PG help.  He just needs a fresh situation with a good coach and he'll be good to go. If he's on a team where he can just play and not have high expectations or a leadership burden, then he'd be worth the risk.

SW:  Danny Granger is the real deal.  A healthy Mike Dunleavy is a lot better than he looked in Golden State.  What under-the-radar Pacer will make a name for himself this season?

Tom:  Troy Murphy is already making a name for himself with several double-doubles. He's following Dunleavy's lead from last year.

SW:  Word association time, a Daily Babble Q-and-A staple.  First word, phrase or thought that comes to your mind..

Roy Hibbert - hard worker

Stephen Jackson - Club Rio

Spike Lee - choke sign

Conseco or Market Square? MSA

Doc Rivers - Ubuntu

Ron Artest - bygones

David Stern - Knick lover

Much thanks to Tom for coming on and doing a great job as always.  And now, let's hope his team has gotten its upset for the week out of its system.

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