The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 15, 2014

Pacers will face different challenges in Central Division

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

— Parker was widely considered the most NBA-ready player in the draft and should become the cornerstone of Milwaukee’s rebuilding project.

— Drummond led the league in offensive rebounds last season and will work with Jennings, one of the league’s most promising young guards, to produce a Motown turnaround.

The Pacers are embracing the test.

“That’s what’s fun about the NBA,” Pacers backup Chris Copeland said Saturday night after playing in the Knox Indy Pro-Am game against mostly ex-college and international players. “There are stars everywhere.”

The most immediate concern for Indy is re-signing Lance Stephenson, who led all NBA guards in rebounding and had a league-high five triple-doubles last season at age 23. Though the Pacers have offered him a five-year, $44 million contract, Stephenson is seeking more money as an unrestricted free agent even though some believe he hurt his free agent stock with his unusual behavior in the playoffs. Stephenson’s return would allow Indiana to retain its starting lineup intact for a third straight season.

And if the Pacers are going to win their third straight division crown for the first time in the franchise’s NBA history, George & Co. will need to be even better than last season.

George is already following one plan.

“I have worked a lot on posting up this summer,” the 6-foot-9, 220-pound small forward said. “I’ve spent a lot of time here working on stuff I can get better at. I’m looking to add bulk and slowly, but surely, I’m doing it.”

If George succeeds, it could give the Pacers the inside track in a division that arguably has the three best teams in the East, the top two draft picks and a boatload of young talent.

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