The Jalen Rose Trade
A Deal with the Future in Mind
Imagine you are running the Pacers. In the summer of 2003 you could be comfortably under the anticipated luxury-tax threshold of $57 million and have close to $34 million to spend to re-sign as many as six key free agents. How will you divvy up the money among Jermaine O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Brad Miller, Jonathan Bender, Ron Artest and Jeff Foster? Who will stay, and who will go? "We're hoping to keep them all," says G.M. David Kahn.
O'Neal is likely to receive the maximum salary of around $11 million. That will leave $23 million for Reggie Miller (who will earn $12 million next season), Brad Miller ($4.8 million), Bender ($3.2 million), Artest ($1.9 million) and Foster ($1.6 million). It's unlikely the Pacers will be able to satisfy them all—unless Reggie Miller, 36, decides to retire.
By trading Jalen Rose to the Bulls last week—along with Travis Best and Norm Richardson for Attest, Ron Mercer, Brad Miller and Kevin Ollie—the Pacers shed the remaining five years and $72 million of Rose's contract, giving them room to maneuver. Creating salary space was a bigger impetus for the deal than any conflicts between Rose and coach Isiah Thomas, who in a seven-game stretch two months ago benched his leading scorer for the fourth quarter five times.
However, there is no doubting that Thomas was the big winner in the trade. Artest, Brad Miller and forward Al Harrington, who is expected to return next season after undergoing knee surgery in January, should provide the tough defense that Thomas desires. The presence of Miller at center solidifies Indiana's rotation, with O'Neal's shifting to power forward and Foster's coming off the bench. On the other hand the trade of Rose means that Thomas must now develop a go-to player who can take his man off the dribble.
Play of the Week
On Feb. 19, with 1.2 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing the visiting Celtics 109-108, Kobe Biyant took the inbounds pass, pump-faked and swished an 18-footer as the buzzer sounded and the Staples Center crowd erupted. Referees Sean Corbin, Bob Delaney and Phil Robinson huddled and—based largely on Corbin's judgment—made the unpopular but ultimately correct decision that Biyant shot the ball too late. College officials are allowed to look at replays to review calls involving the clock, but NBA referees have no such luxury. "Everybody in the crowd thought it was good, two officials thought it was good," said Bryant two days later, after seeing the replay. "He guessed, and he just happened to get it right."