As our own Kurt Helin noted yesterday, the Pacers have taken a new approach in trying to sever their ties with point guard T.J. Ford. Though Ford has been on the trading block since, well, moments after he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers were, as of yesterday, attempting to negotiate a buyout with Ford — likely as a display of good faith to the newly acquired Darren Collison.
That’s all well and good, but ultimately futile if Ford doesn’t want to play ball. Err, I mean if he doesn’t want to not play ball. For the Pacers anyway. And not playing ball he most certainly doesn’t want to do. For something a little less confusing, we turn to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
The Pacers – like they’ve been doing for quite some time – tried to trade Ford on Wednesday. They couldn’t throw him in a deal so they then tried to negotiate a buyout with him. The Pacers wanted Ford to take a buyout for about $5 million. The point guard quickly shot that idea down. “I’m not taking a buyout,” Ford said.
You can’t blame Ford for not taking a buyout, especially since he’s scheduled to make $8.5 million next season. He didn’t pick up his player option to leave $3.5 million on the table. “T.J. is on the team and we expect him to come in here and be
professional and try to get a job and get some playing time,” [Larry] Bird said.
So unless Indiana can find a taker for Ford’s $8.5 million expiring contract or the team decides to waive him outright, Ford should be a Pacer next season. Even if that’s in name only. Ford will no doubt serve in a less prominent capacity next season (note Larry’s quote regarding his hope that Ford will try to “come in here and…try to get a job and some playing time,”) and could easily become a fixture at the end of the Pacers’ bench.