T.J. Ford made it clear Saturday night that he isn't going to play the prima donna card after being benched during a win against the Timberwolves. Well, at least for now.
After receiving his first DNP-CD box score line for the first time in a year, Ford has officially dropped out of the playing rotation and is currently the No. 4 point guard for the Indiana Pacers behind Earl Watson, Luther Head and rookie A.J. Price. Head and Watson started as the team's backcourt Saturday as each totaled more than 34 minutes and they combined for 33 points, 15 assists and only three turnovers. Price added eight points and six dishes off the bench.
After the game, Ford told Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star that he will accept his new role in a professional manner, but he doesn't understand what has prompted coach Jim O'Brien to keep his season-opening starter on the bench.
"I just have to stay professional. I have to come in and do what I need to do keep myself ready. At the end of the day it's a business, you have to just respect their decision and go from there. This is the first time that I've had to deal with a situation to this extent."
[On why he was benched] "I still don't know, I'm still in limbo. Do I plan on talking to (coach O'Brien) about it? No, not really. What's done is what's done. I'm here. If they decide to (trade me) it's not because of me, it's because they choose to. I'm not forcing anybody's hand. Just going to support the people that's playing the same way they supported me when I was playing. There's no salty feelings. It is what it is." -- T.J. Ford
I'm always fascinated by how players, particularly in the NBA, refuse to meet with their coach, when they've been benched, to find out what they can do to get back into the playing rotation. Ford didn't come out and attack the Pacers or O'Brien in his statement, but he shows that he's not comfortable enough with O'Brien to go directly to him for help, and he's also hurt enough by the benching that he's holding it against the coach.
Unfortunately, for Ford, his replacements are exciting to watch, playing well and helping their teammates find open shots in good positions on the court. None of that can describe how Ford has played up to this point in the 2009-10 campaign. It's easily his worst statistical season since his rookie year. He's averaging under 10 points per game, less than three assists below his career average, and he's made less free throws than Jonathan Bender (he's got four).
So check out tonight's game against Bender and the Knicks to see if Ford manages to make it into the game, but first click the jump for links to more stories about last night's