Reggie's gone, but new Pacers in new places sub in

INDIANAPOLIS -- Five observations from Pacers training camp:

1. Not since 1986-87: For the first time in nearly 20 years, Indiana opens a season without Reggie Miller wearing No. 31, prompting Rick Carlisle to hatch a special strategy to deal with retirement of Mr. Pacer.

"We knew it was coming, so all I can do is just try not to think about it," Carlisle said. "Because, really, what's the point?"

Valid point. Longing for Miller isn't going to bring him back, and the Pacers have too long of a list of challenges to be dwelling on sentimental stuff.

Besides ...

Jermaine O'Neal has been eager to increase his leadership load and proved it by organizing nearly all of the Pacers for informal workouts and pickup games some three weeks before training camp commenced.

"Reggie did a really good job last year to just keep reiterating that he wasn't going to be here," O'Neal said. "I don't think he let one day pass where he didn't say, 'Hey, I'm not coming back next year.' He got us ready for his departure -- especially me."

2. Filling those shoes: Miller's retirement and Ron Artest's return means Stephen Jackson will now play the position he expected to play when he joined the Pacers with a sign-and-trade in the summer of 2004.