(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - The Indiana Pacers open a new era tonight when they face the New Orleans Hornets in the preseason opener at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis.
The Pacers are coming off an offseason in which they traded six-time all-star forward Jermaine O'Neal and have declined to bring back veteran point guard Jamaal Tinsley despite being on the hook for the remaining three years and $21-million dollars on his contract.
Team President Larry Bird traded O'Neal to Toronto and landed TJ Ford, one of the candidates to replace Tinsley at the point. The Pacers' other new point guard, Jarrett Jack, came in a draft night deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The blue and gold will also be getting their first looks at rookies Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert.
The Pacers will be without two possible starters tonight as Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy will sit with injuries.
Head Coach Jim O'Brien says he will experiment with starting lineups tonight during the preseason. Ford, Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger, Austin Croshere and Rasho Nesterovic will start tonight.
This evening's Pacers game marks a return to the team's roots as they will play at the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Coliseum was the Pacers' home from the team's inception in 1967 through the 1973-1974 season in the old American Basketball Association.
The Pacers will celebrate the building's link to the ABA by having longtime coach and current team radio analyst Bobby "Slick" Leonard coach the team during the first quarter. Leonard won 529 games for the Pacers in both the ABA and the NBA.
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