SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Larry Bird vowed earlier this summer that he was willing to make a deal. Now, he might just be primed to make another one before the season opens.
Bird's Indiana Pacers were involved in last Wednesday's big four-team trade. They ended up with point guard Darren Collison and forward James Posey from New Orleans while sending big-salaried big man Troy Murphy to New Jersey.
"I hope so,'' Bird, Indiana's president, said when asked by FanHouse on Friday at the Basketball Hall of Fame whether he anticipates the team making another move before the opener. "We're not good enough right now... So we have to take a hard look and see where we're at. If there's some opportunity, we're going to be involved in it.''
The Pacers were able to make the move earlier this week due to Murphy having an expiring contract of $11.97 million. While Bird didn't give names, the Pacers still have the expiring contracts of Mike Dunleavy ($10.56 million), T.J. Ford ($8.78 million) and Jeff Foster ($6.66 million) to dangle in deals.
"This year is the first year in a while we've had an opportunity with expiring contracts,'' said Bird, who was inducted as a player into the Hall of Fame in 1998 and who was scheduled Friday night to be enshrined as a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. "If we see a deal we like, we're going to make it and we're not going to wait. We're not going to make any moves to put us back where we are (with high-salaried players who aren't long-term pieces). We feel we're in a better position with Darren and James. Obviously, if we have another opening (for a deal), we're going to get in there.''
While Posey does have two years left on his contract for more than $14 million, the Pacers saved nearly $3.5 million for next season due to Posey ($7.15 million) and Collison ($1.36 million) combining to make that much less than Murphy. And Bird, who had willing to perhaps acquire a stop-gap point guard, was extremely pleased to have landed Collison, who could be a long-term answer at the position while still on his rookie contract.
"We needed a point guard, and we were patient and we got one and we're very happy about it,'' Bird said of Collison, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists last season as a rookie, really coming on after starter Chris Paul missed ample time in the season's second half due to a knee injury. "That's what we hope (is Collison will be the long-term answer). We've known Darren for a long time. We've scouted him. He had a great last half of the year last year. He's a basketball player. He loves to play. So hopefully he can be with us for a long, long time.''
The Pacers, who have had four straight seasons, could use some other long-term pieces. They've got plenty of expiring contracts left to dangle.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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