By Justin Albers
For The Herald Bulletin
On a day when Darren Collison was expected to give Indiana Pacers’ fans everywhere hope for the future, he delivered a surprise sure to startle every fan.
When he and James Posey were being introduced to the Indianapolis media Tuesday at Conseco Fieldhouse, Collison raised his right hand to display a soft cast protecting a fracture on the outside of the hand, near the pinky finger.
Collison said he sustained the injury while playing basketball last week and will be out 3-4 weeks. He assured fans, however, that he would be back and ready for training camp.
“It’s nothing serious,” he said. “I know you are all going to be asking me a lot of questions about it, but I will be back well before training camp.”
The Pacers acquired Collison and Posey from New Orleans in a four-team deal last week. Each player represents a piece previously missing on the Indiana roster.
Collison, a 6-foot, 160-pound guard out of UCLA, fills the need at point guard and more than likely will be the starter when the Pacers open the regular season in October.
Collison was drafted 21st overall by the Hornets in 2009 and averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists in his rookie season. He raised eyebrows when he put up 18.8 points and 9.1 assists per game in 37 games filling in for the injured Chris Paul as a starter last season.
While he was somewhat surprised that his opportunity came so quickly, Collison was confident he eventually would be a starter after playing behind Paul.
“He is, in my eyes, the best point guard in the league, and I learned a lot from him,” Collison said of Paul. “The opportunity comes quick, and once you have the opportunity, you definitely got to take advantage of it.”
When the Pacers acquired Collison last week, his name immediately appeared in headlines, pushing the Colts’ training camp to the side. He is a source of hope for fans of a franchise that has missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
Collison isn’t afraid of the potential pressure that comes with that hope.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always been an underdog,” he said. “Nothing is going to change for me. I’m going to stay humble and whatever happens, happens. These expectations don’t change my game at all. I’ve always been a player who works hard, listens to the coach and do what I gotta do to win games.”
Posey, a 6-8, 217-pound forward who has played for six teams in his 11 years as a pro, brings a veteran presence to the roster. He joins Jeff Foster as the only players who have been in the league for at least 10 years.
But he also brings championship experience to a team hungry for a title. Posey earned rings with Miami in 2006 and Boston in 2008.
“I want to compete and play at a high level, while along the way helping the young guys,” said Posey, who averaged 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds with the Hornets last season. “We have to put ourselves in position to win basketball games by working hard and competing. It’s going to be a process. I don’t want to sell you any dreams. We have to take it one game and one day at a time to put ourselves in position to have a strong season and make the playoffs.”
While Collison and Posey are still getting to know their new Pacers teammates, they are excited about the talent they have seen from afar.
“I like them a lot,” Collison said. “I got the chance to play with Danny (Granger) for like the last three summers because he’s been coming up to L.A. I’m happy for Danny, I’m happy for Roy (Hibbert). Those are two players that are going to be succeeding in the NBA for a long time.”