Harrington returns to Pacers ready to win

Updated: August 24, 2006, 1:20 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers thought Al Harrington filled a void in their new up-tempo offense. Harrington just wanted to play for a winner -- and going home seemed like the perfect move.

Al Harrington
AP Photo/Michael Conroy"I'm happy to be back, finally get back to winning again," Al Harrington said. "What was it -- 39 wins in two years and no fun?"

Harrington was reintroduced by the Pacers on Thursday, two days after a sign-and-trade deal brought him back to the team that originally drafted him in 1998.

"I'm happy to be back and finally get back to winning again," said Harrington, one of the NBA's top remaining free agents. "What was it -- 39 wins in two years and no fun?"

Harrington averaged 18.6 points and 6.9 rebounds last season for the dismal Atlanta Hawks, and the Pacers gave up the future first-round pick to acquire him and center John Edwards.

The 26-year-old Harrington is expected to start for the Pacers at power forward next season.

"His love for the game and his dedication to being on time, being early and staying late is one thing you can't question about Al," Indiana president Larry Bird said. "We didn't want to get rid of Al in the first place. He was the one that wanted to be traded, and I understand that. We're very happy to have him back."

Indiana had already dealt forward Austin Croshere and guard Anthony Johnson -- both backups -- and let swingman Peja Stojakovic go in a sign-and-trade deal.

He is the latest addition to a team that has had a major facelift this offseason. Bird said the team was still looking for a perimeter shooter and another big man to fit their new offense. Harrington is one piece of the puzzle.

The four-year deal ended weeks of speculation about where Harrington would eventually end up. Harrington considered Golden State, but the deal involving Corey Maggette fell through. That gave him the opportunity to return to Indiana, where his family lives.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press