Bob Kravitz caught up with Sarunas Jasikevicius in Beijing to discuss his failed tenure with the Pacers which eventually had him thrown in a trade to Golden State. Runi unloaded on Rick Carlisle and the problem locker room to explain his lack of success in Indiana.
"Obviously, the (up-tempo) style of play Rick promised me was never there, the opportunities to play were never there, and the players who were supposed to be gone by the time I came were still around," he said. "Rick did a great false recruiting job on me, like college recruiting where they say, 'If you come here, we promise you the world.'
"But Larry (Bird) being such an honorable man, and (then-president) Donnie (Walsh), too, they hire the coach and let him coach the way he wants. Rick's a half-court man, no question."
He also pointed to Fred Jones as the leader of a locker-room freeze out which added to his misery. It would be interesting to hear about the locker room dysfunction in general during his time with the Pacers. It would help explain a lot.
One problem with the excuses though is that after Jones left nothing changed with Runi's play. Rick might've been able to allow more running if Runi could knock down a shot. For some reason, the additional distance for 3-balls pushed him out of his range because it was a clank-fest.
Look, it was a miserable time for the Pacers so this isn't ALL on Runi, but he had chances to seize playing time with a bigger role and never took advantage. He couldn't defend quicker guards, so if the shot wasn't fallling, why play him? Bottom line. Plus, as Kravitz pointed out, his move to Golden State didn't solve his playing time issues and the Nellie-ball Warriors couldn't have a more high-flying, running offense if they tried.