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Pacers Stay Busy During Lockout

Antonio Davis has been there and so have Reggie Miller and Rik Smits.

And they've got company at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport. Chris Mullin is around for the workouts as are Mark Jackson, Derrick McKey, Travis Best and just about everybody else on the Indiana Pacers.

"We don't have the coaches pushing us, we're pushing ourselves," Davis said. "We all worked hard in the hope of winning a championship and want to do everything we can to make it possible."

The Pacers have looked toward a new season ever since they lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Chicago Bulls.

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  • Now, if the lockout ends in time for a season, no team might be more ready than the Pacers. Most of their players have been meeting and working out daily.

    "We apparently have more players living in the area during the off-season than other teams," Davis said. "And the guys just want to be as ready as possible."

    Most of the Indiana players have scattered this week for Thanksgiving. But Davis was there Monday, working out with the Pacers' first-round draft pick, Al Harrington, as well as Chuck Person of the San Antonio Spurs, a former Pacer who still has a home in the area.

    "At this point, we're all losing, and I just feel we need to do something to see that this whole thing (league) isn't wrecked," Davis said. "We have a lot of positive things going that have been tarnished right now."

    At least six weeks of the season have been wiped out. Even if a settlement comes soon, the season most likely will not begin until January because of time needed for free-agent and rookie signings, along with some kind of limited training camp.

    Smits, one of the top centers in the game, hasn't let his intention to test the free-agent market interfere with his workouts.

    "I'm sure teams will work fast once they can sign players. ... It will be hard if at the last minute that I have to pack up nd go," he said. "But I'm definitely leaving my options open."

    Harrington has taken to heart the words Larry Bird left with him at a minicamp before the lockout.

    "He said that the biggest thing with his team is you don't play unless you are in shape," Harrington said. "Those were his words of wisdom to me."

    The Pacers' resolve has been noticed by others, including New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy.

    "The thing I read about Indiana is that their team is ready to go ," he said. "They've got 11 or 12 guys working together each and every day, and I think that team will definitely have a jump on all the other teams because they are more committed.

    "They're showing their commitment now. What they're doing is a great indicator of where they're at. For our team, I haven't heard those reports."

    Coaches are prohibited from talking with their players during the lockout. They can only hope their players will be ready once the season begins.

    "I haven't talked to anybody in five months, but they're professionals," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "I assume they'll be ready. We'll find out when the bell rings."

    If Riley were to visit the University of Miami, he might run into Tim Hardaway, P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn. He'd also likely see players from other teams such as Rony Seikaly, Glen Rice and Matt Geiger working out with them.

    In Utah, six to 10 Jazz players have been scrimmaging daily at Westminster College, a former team training site.

    The Seattle SuperSonics have six players under contract -- Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins, Vin Baker, Jim McIlvaine and Aaron Williams. They've been working out individually but not as a team.

    Meanwhile, with Phil Jackson gone and most of the Chicago Bulls unsigned, the three-time defending champions show no signs they're preparing for another title run.

    Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Ron Harper were said to be practicing together. But Jordan, when asked about it recently, replied he was out of shape and refused to say what, if any, training he was doing.

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