Josh McRoberts holds mixed feelings about Indiana
His roots back to the Indiana Pacers almost seem like a distant memory.
Josh McRoberts hasn't had a chance to follow his former team, only recently having cable TV service installed in his South Bay apartment. He's only kept in touch with A.J. Price from time to time. And of course, McRoberts has slowly but surely learned the confines of Los Angeles.
He's embraced the warm weather, hates the traffic and limited his lifestyle strictly to Lakers basketball.
There's no doubt, though, that McRoberts sees the Lakers' (10-6) game Sunday against the Pacers at Staples Center a tad differently.
"It'll be fun," McRoberts said after the Lakers' practice Saturday at the team's facility in El Segundo. "I want to beat them. I want to beat everybody. But I definitely want to beat them."
That's because McRoberts views his 2½-year stint at Indiana with mixed feelings. He said it was a "dream come true" to play in his home state and relishes his best NBA season last year, when he averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes. But he remains hurt at the Pacers' attempt to trade him for Memphis guard O.J. Mayo and Indiana's apparent unkept promise to re-sign him when he became a free agent.
"They tried trading me at the deadline and they didn't get it done," McRoberts said. "They told me they were going to try to bring me back this summer, but they didn't call and try to bring me back. It ended in a bad way, in my opinion, but I'll always be thankful for the way it started and the time that I spent there."
Still, McRoberts maintained he "doesn't hold any grudges" and is happy with how everything turned out. He signed with the Lakers to a two-year, $6.1-million deal and has averaged 4.0 points on 54.5% shooting and 4.4 rebounds in 19.5 minutes, adding instant energy to the Lakers' bench. And the team has immediately embraced him.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown hopes McRoberts follows that same formula, even if there's some heightened motivation.
"I've coached against teams I've worked with in the past and I don't want to kick their behind just because I worked with them in the past," Brown said. "I want to kick their behind because I want to kick their behind. Hopefully our guys are that way too."
McRoberts had to maintain that even-keeled approach at Indiana, albeit in different circumstances. Former Indiana Coach Jim O'Brien shuffled McRoberts in and out of the starting lineup, despite his season-long consistency. That all reached a tipping point when O'Brien benched McRoberts in the fourth quarter of a loss to Chicago, even though he had put up a career-high 20 points. That marked O'Brien's final game as head coach.
The unsuccesful trade for Mayo and interim coach Frank Voegel's decision to put McRoberts on the bench in favor of Tyler Hansbrough didn't hurt McRoberts' play. Once the 2011 playoffs hit, however, McRoberts averaged only five points on 33% shooting.
"I think it was good for me," McRoberts said of his stint with Indiana. "It taught me how to be a professional, come in and handle any situation. You're not going to be able to figure out everything sometimes. Sometimes you'll play big minutes. Sometimes you might not be active when I was there. You just have come into work every day and do your job and take care of what you can control.
And come Sunday, that involves helping the Lakers beat the Pacers.
-- Mark Medina
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