Luther Headis a pretty well-known hoop name in these parts thanks to his net splashing ways during a successful college career at Illinois. Just don't let those college impressions impact your expectations for what type of player the Indiana Pacers added yesterday.
There's this really hip saying these days that you may have heard before which applies to the Head signing: It is what it is.
So what is this signing?
It is a 15th roster spot filled up by an undersized combo guard who struggles to defend either guard position unless matched up with a small shooting guard. The deal is a partially guaranteed, one-year contract, so the Pacers are risking very little while hoping Head finds his 2006-07 form. Head is known as a sharpshooting, 3-ball specialist, but his NBA career numbers don't exactly back up that reputation. For the 2006-07 season, Head shot a solid 44.1% from behind the arc, but for the other three seasons of his career he only shot 35.8% from distance. Plus, he's not a guy who will create his own shot.
From a positive perspective, Head should arrive at the Fieldhouse plenty motivated to keep his NBA career alive since last season was a disaster. After playing sporadically for the Rockets, a right foot injury shelved Head in early January. By late February, the Rockets had given up and waived Head to give him a chance to play somewhere else. The Miami Heat picked up Head in March but a broken hand ended his season early after seeing decent minutes in just ten games with Miami.
So now Head joins a crowed backcourt with the Pacers as an emergency utility guard who may or may not remain on the roster at the start of the season. Head is trying to hit the reset button, so while trying to stabilize his career he should give Jim O'Brien every ounce of effort he has to offer. I expect Head to be on the roster, but with a partially guaranteed contract, the team could cut bait on Head with little pain if he doesn't work out or another free agent camper explodes on the scene.
One thing I love about this signing is that it should add a little more edginess to the start of camp. There was already plenty of playing time up for grabs without Head in the picture, but this signing lets players like Earl Watson, Travis Diener, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush know that the organization isn't satisfied and is continually looking at other options, so if these players want to be the option the team turns to, they're going to have to earn it every day.