INDIANAPOLIS — The Pacers held Media Day Monday — otherwise known as Optimism Day — and trotted out a team with mostly old faces and a few new ones.
The starting five of George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert is intact, but the bench has been reshuffled. Gone are Darren Collison, Leandro Barbosa and Lou Amundson, and in their places are D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green and Ian Mahimi.
Larry Bird stepped away as team president, only to have Donnie Walsh — the man who left that position with the Pacers in 2008 for the New York Knicks — return to fill Bird’s shoes.
In front of the microphones, most of the talk centered around the Pacers taking the proverbial ‘next step’ after reaching the first round of the playoffs in 2011 and the second round last season. There were also differing mindsets on blowing a 2-1 series lead at home to Miami in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last May. Lastly, there was no debate on which player has stood out the most in workouts.
“We finished last season feeling like we were good enough to win the championship. We’re a team that sets our sights high, we shoot for the moon. And we work our butts off trying to get those goals. Those are some immediate steps, but we’re dreaming big here.” — coach Frank Vogel
“Going further in the playoffs. Getting over that hump in Miami. We want to win our division.” — center Roy Hibbert