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Larry Bird wants to swing a big deal in Indiana, but odds are against it

Jan 25, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans v North Carolina Tar Heels Getty Images

Indiana is one of those team’s stuck in the NBA middle, a place that can be hard to get out of — not good enough to make a run beyond the first round (if they even get in), not bad enough to get a high draft pick that can take a team a long way in a couple of years. They keep cruising along in the middle, fighting for one of the final playoff spots, making it or not, but with no real likelihood of dramatic improvement.

However this year the Pacers do have one thing — expiring contracts. More than $25 million worth between Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford and Jeff Foster. That’s the kind of asset that can be converted into a huge trade to bring another star player or two to the Fieldhouse. The kind of move that would shake Indiana out of the middle ground — and team president Larry Bird told FanHouse he would pull the trigger on it.

“I would do that,” Bird, 54, who is contemplating retiring from the NBA after this season, said in an interview with FanHouse. “I’ve got my draft choice (a 2011 first-round pick). The thing I always say is, ‘Do you save it and see what the rules are (under a new collective bargaining agreement) or do you use it?’ But, if get that opportunity, I’m going to use it (by the trade deadline). … Do you wait or do you do it? I’ve made my mind up and I’ve talked to (Pacers owner Herb) Simon about it, and I’ve told him what I want to do, if we can get a good player.”

The problem is, this is a tough year for expiring deals — there is a bigger supply of them then there is demand from teams to get them. It’s the reverse of last season, when teams were desperate to get salary down so they could be part of the LeBron James (and others) sweepstakes. This season there are a number of other big expiring deals out there (Troy Murphy in New Jersey, Eddy Curry in New York, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg) plus some huge trade exceptions that teams such as Cleveland and Toronto can use.

What Bird did say is that Danny Granger isn’t going anywhere. The goal is to get more talent to go around him not send him away and start rebuilding all over again.

But for now, it’s the safe middle ground for the Pacers as they look for a way to shake out of it.

  1. indianaraiderfan - Jan 25, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Although it’s not a deal that would put them among the elite in the East, but I think they should try to trade Dunleavy and McRoberts to the Cavs for Antawn Jamison. It’s a deal that would make sense for both teams. One of the Pacers problems is they have too many 2’s and 3’s. There’s only so many minutes to split between Granger, Rush, George, Dunleavy, and Posey. If they get Jamison, he could either step in as the starting PF or be the first guy off the bench. They’d still have Ford and Foster’s contracts coming off the books this year and Jamison and Posey’s next. Though it’s not a huge upgrade in terms of talent, it would give them a more balanced rotation this year and get George the minutes needed to help him develop without giving up on Rush already.

    Hibbert, Jamison or Hansbrough, Granger, Rush or George, and Collinson as a starting 5 with the leftovers at PF and SG along with Posey, Ford, and Foster coming off the bench would give them a better chance at the playoffs this year, while still developing the young guys and still have Posey and Jamison’s contracts for a possible big trade next year when they have a better idea of what the young talent is capable of.

    For the Cavs, they get rid of the guy(and his contract) who was strictly brought in to hopefully give Lebron another consistent scoring threat in last years playoffs and help them win a championship. And they also get a young big guy to eat some minutes Jamison would be leaving behind.

    I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of including Ford and Mo Williams in this deal either.

  2. metalhead65 - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    as long as they have obrien and his system in place it won’t do them any good this season. but I guess it won’t hurt their chances in the future when they get a real coach who knows what he is doing and is not afraid to make adj. during the game or go with the players who have the hot hand instaed of pulling them for no reason.

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