Pacers' work in free agency just beginning
By Mike Wells
Posted: July 10, 2010
The dust has settled. The free agent heavyweights have committed to their next destination.
Now it's time for the other teams to try to improve their rosters.
That's the Indiana Pacers' mind-set at least.
Pacers president Larry Bird expected the free agent landscape to level out once LeBron James and the other top stars decided where they would play next season.
"We're moving along in the process of looking at what we want to do," Pacers general manager David Morway said. "We're going to take a careful approach to see where the market is going to fall out, and then we'll start to make decisions."
The Pacers' objective has not changed during the past three months. The team will continue its search for a point guard.
The good news for the Pacers is the luxury tax came in higher -- $70.3 million -- than expected. The bad news is that they are still financially strapped.
The Pacers are about $2.6 million under the luxury tax, with part of that money headed to second-round picks Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle, who both impressed the team during summer league play.
Teams pay a dollar-for-dollar tax when they exceed the luxury tax.
The Pacers aren't in the financial or competitive position to go over that threshold. Team officials have been steadfast they will not exceed the tax.
It will take some financial maneuvering if the Pacers expect to use much of their $5.76 million mid-level exception. They would have to shed some salaries through trades.
"We're certainly going to look to use part or all of the mid-level exception, but we have not finalized what direction we're going to go right now," Morway said.
Buying out the final year of point guard T.J. Ford's contract isn't an option at the moment. The Pacers will continue to try to trade him.
The Pacers have talked to free agent point guards Jordan Farmar and Kyle Lowry, but it appears the team's best option -- at the moment at least -- is to go back to the teams they talked to before the draft and try to work out a trade.
Bird said draft night that the Pacers talked to almost every team in the league about possible trades.
Their goal is to acquire a veteran point guard who has no problem giving up the ball and can shoot well from the perimeter.
The Pacers continue to dangle their expiring contracts in front of teams in an attempt to find that player.
What has changed, though, is they no longer desire two point guards.
Stephenson's play in summer league helped change Pacers officials' minds. The former University of Cincinnati player shot 73 percent from the field and averaged 14.8 points and 1.5 assists in Orlando, Fla., this week.
A.J. Price is doing well in his rehabilitation from knee surgery and could be ready to return at some point during training camp in October.
"We don't feel the pressure to have to do something unless it's a move that makes sense long term for the franchise," Morway said. "Having said that, I feel we're going to have a lot of options available to us similar to the draft process.
"I'm confident that if at the end of the day we want to make a move, it's going to be available to us to do that."
Nothing much new here. Putting it together it's obvious the Pacers would like to trade TJ Ford and his expiring contract for a vet point guard who has no trouble giving up the ball and can shoot. Then they would have Price and Stephenson as back up point guards. Plus Rolle WILL get a contract. (Some forum members expressed doubt.)