Bruno's latest Caught in the Web reveals comments from Pacers Prez, Larry Bird on a few open issues concerning the Pacers that have lead to some late summer speculation. Kind of like this, this and this. (Hey, I'm bored, sue me.)
Okay, let's take 'em one at a time in order of importance which in this case begins with Danny Granger's contract status. Granger emerging as a star in the League is critical to the Pacers' future plans for success, but it seems like they're dragging their feet in extending his contract to lock him up for that bright future. Bird disagrees and in fact wouldn't mind waiting until next summer to seal him up.
"Why not wait? That's my question," Bird said. "If you go in (now) and things don't get done, there could be some animosity there. Danny's very valuable to us and we want him to be a part of this for a long time and hopefully we can get something done.
"He's a young player that's improved every year and done everything to improve his game so he's very important to us."
First of all, animosity? Granger wants to be here and the Pacers want him here. They should be in lock step on working out an equitable deal. It would take a complete diplomatic disaster to make this thing messy.
Bruno goes on to explain that if the Pacers did wait until next summer it would allow them to use any available cap space for a free agent (this is really happening, living breathing cap space ready to use next summer) and then go over the cap to sign Granger. If he's signed now that cap space won't be there.
That's a significant point which appears on the surface like it would be a stroke of genius to hold off extending Danny until the cap space is used appropriately. Granger's cap hold would be counted which DraftExpress speculates would be around $9.8 million. To be conservative that would save the Pacers $2-3 million for next summer. Then Larry Bird can make use of Granger's Larry Bird rights and exceed the cap if need be.
But there are risks.
This approach has stark pros and cons for both the Pacers and Danny. Both parties could benefit equally if the team was able to improve using the cap space and then sign Danny to legally go over the cap. But Danny risks losing lots o' cash if struck down by a serious injury during the season or doesn't continue producing along the arc of improvement he's been on to date. We'll be eternally grateful for his team-first attitude, but he'll end up looking like a sucker. Of course, the Pacers risk reliving the J.O. situation if Danny's injured after a large contract extension.
On the other hand, if Danny continues to blow up this year and take his game up another couple of notches, the Pacers will pay more, say $14-15 mil/year later instead of $11-12 mil/year right now. I'm sure the Pacers would love to have this as a worst case scenario, but an extra $3 mil/year over a 5-6 year contract impacts the salary cap significantly. Now if they're still able to use the cap space next summer in some form or fashion then it could be worth it.
Regardless of the approach, the Pacers and Danny (and his reps) should be fully aware of the situation and each side's preferences. Just please communicate and make it work. So what do you think, pay Danny now or pay him later?
The news on Tinsley is clear cut. Bird flatly states that Jamaal will not be with the team. Bird went on to express why he's optimistic about moving Tins, but Bruno's comments mirror my thoughts.
As for Tinsley, I hope you noticed the absolute absence of wiggle room in Bird's words. One way or another, he's gone. Given Bird's ability to stir up some serious trade value for Jermaine O'Neal, and given his quiet confidence about moving Tinsley, you have to believe he knows something he just isn't ready to discuss.
Too many indications of a deal in place to not expect something to happen before the season. The only possible reason I can think that Bird would wait until after the season is so Bob Kravitz and Jim O'Brien have to walk to Kokomo. Kravitz has said he'd walk to Kokomo is Jamaal is a Pacer on opening night and earlier this summer JOB mentioned he'd join him.
Finally, Bird also commented on Rasho Nesterovic and his extended European stay. He confirms that Rasho will be moving to Indy in a couple of weeks and be ready for the season when the time comes.
Hmm, notice Bird said Rasho was moving to Indy but he didn't say how long he'd stay. Sorry, gotta keep the conspiracies brewing, it's still summer.