Outside of wherever Larry Brown is coaching at any given time, it’s hard to have a more strained relationship between a coach and point guard then there has been in Indianapolis.
Jim O’Brien started then benched T.J. Ford several times. Ford did not execute the up-tempo, pick-and-roll heavy offense as well as O’Brien liked. But Ford was still the best option so O’Brien would go back to him. There was tension felt throughout the organization.
It was widely expected Ford would be moved this summer. Didn’t happen. The Pacers talked about buying out the last year of Ford’s contract, but he didn’t want to make $3.5 million less this season (he will make $8.5 million this season, the Pacers tried to buy him out at $5 million). They came to an uneasy truce. The Pacers went out and got Darren Collison to be the man at point, Ford became a backup.
“It was a conversation that we needed to have because we had prolonged it for so long,” Ford said. “It’s not like we didn’t like each other; we were both being stubborn.
“At the end of the day, we all need each other. I need the organization. I need coach O’Brien and coach O’Brien needs me. Everybody needs each other to make this a good working environment.”
Ford has been good about his move to the bench — maybe in part because he is in the last year of his deal and he knows guys who are good sparks off the bench get paid.
“My role here is to be here coming off the bench, creating a spark, playing hard and teaching these young guys,” Ford said. “It’s a challenge that I’m up for.”
If he is really up for it, the Pacers are going to be a much improved team this season.