September 28, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Maybe Paul George isn't completely sold on a new position.

He does believe going small and playing fast is the Pacers' quickest way to regaining its contender status in the Eastern Conference.

On Monday, the two-time NBA All-Star explained his concerns about making the switch and why Indiana's offseason overhaul makes sense.

''I think it will be good for us. I think it give us a chance to again, change the East, gives us a chance to play faster, to play a funner, better brand of basketball,'' George said during the team's annual media day. ''It's definitely tougher to guard, and I think we would have been in The Finals and had a shot at winning it all, if it wasn't for this small ball idea.''

Indiana has doubled down on making the conversion.

After losing David West in free agency and trading two-time All-Star center Roy Hibbert to the Lakers, Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird revamped the roster.

He signed scoring guard Monta Ellis and forward Jordan Hill in free agency. He got forward Chase Budinger in a trade with Minnesota. They re-signed backup guard Rodney Stuckey and are looking at a lineup of George Hill and Ellis at guard, C.J. Miles and George at forward and Ian Mahinmi at center.

Coach Frank Vogel also intends to use first-round draft pick Myles Turner, a 6-foot-11 forward-center, and second-round draft pick Joe Young, a guard. Bird called Turner the best shooter on the team.

All those moves should give the Pacers a quicker lineup with more scorers and a defense that will face different sorts of challenges.

''Without playing with the size we've had in the past, it may be difficult to duplicate the (defensive) dominance we've had in the past,'' Vogel said. ''But the defensive principles will stay the same.''

The biggest question remains George, who has expressed reluctance about the switch publically and privately in meetings with Bird and Vogel.

Nobody inside the organization expects it to be a lingering problem.

''Paul will play everywhere,'' Bird said. ''When you say something to Paul, sometimes he hears what he wants to hear, but Paul will be playing everywhere except point guard.''

George's biggest concern is health, especially after missing 76 games last season because of a broken right leg.

''It's matching up with guys that you don't usually match up against. That was really the only concern and for how long the body will tolerate banging and playing against these guys,'' George said.

There's no chance Indiana is going to abandon the overall game plan.

Vogel said he and Bird started discussing it during the second half of last season and after meeting throughout the offseason, the Pacers top two decision-makers are on the same page.

And if it doesn't work, Vogel will go to a backup plan.

''Our success with it will determine how much we'll use him (at power forward),'' Vogel said. ''If it's not working, if he's getting beat up with it, we'll adjust. But I think this is something worth exploring and we think he's going to like it.''

George said he does like the new style and thinks fans will embrace it, too - especially if the Pacers can regain their status as a title contender.

''I think we've got a real shot at being in the top three in the East,'' George said. ''I think looking at the big picture, Atlanta was a great team to look at it, they had the first seed. They had great players, but I don't think they had the players we have. We're going to play the style we're going to play and the sky's the limit for this team.''

Notes: Vogel said two rookies, Turner and Rakeem Christmas, are dealing with minor soreness heading into training camp, which opens Tuesday. ... Bird echoed Vogel's comments about the rookies playing as early and often as they can. He said he believes they'll be ''real good'' in a couple of years.

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