This probably wasn't even a discussion one month ago for the Indiana Pacers. And maybe that dictates the final answer. But Earl Watson's late-season push as the team's prominent point guard will force the team to make another difficult decision with the PG spot this summer.
Watson, who signed a one-year contract last summer, could either stay or go with the Pacers this summer. Last summer, the Pacers let Jarrett Jack go to free agency and found Watson as a replacement.
As Bruno reported in his Caught in Web, Watson has been very consistent of late by getting comfortable with teammates as he's helped lead the push from a top-four lottery pick to the back of lottery contention. During the four-game winning streak, Watson has averaged 9.0 points and 9.8 assists with an assist:turnover ratio of 5.6. Bruno also reported that Watson has seemingly become a mentor for the young players such as Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush and Josh McRoberts. Coach Jim O'Brien couldn't hold back his appreciation for the point guard.
"I love his leadership," O'Brien said. "He's a guy that I certainly would value being in this franchise for a long time. He's been a very consistent performer for us and I certainly hope that we would consider having him in a Pacer uniform next year. We know we have T.J. under contract and we're going to have A.J. under contract. A lot depends upon the draft and what Larry (Bird) can do from the standpoint of personnel changes this summer. But Earl is certainly my kind of guy and I would love to have the opportunity to coach him again."
Of course, if the Pacers win the John Wall Sweepstakes (let us pray) then we won't even have this discussion. The fact that it took five months for Watson to come around is a red flag, along with the fact that his return would probably continue to stunt the growth of rookie A.J. Price, who needs as many minutes as possible.
Watson told Bruno that he's not thinking about next year, which fits right in with the Pacers selfish philosophy of late -- not caring about the future, only about winning now. Sounds like a perfect fit. More links after the jump.
Pacers play best among also-rans
Mike Wells reports on how well the Pacers have been at beating up the bottom-feeders of the league these past two weeks. Tonight's matchup will present a tougher foe.
With new name, Conseco will leave sometimes-troubled past behind
Conseco is changing its name to the versatile CNO Financial Group, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's the future name of the Fieldhouse as well. According to the IndyStar, the team and company will go through some negotiations to hash out the details.
Helpside defense: Pacers not rolling over
Covers.com goes into the blue and gold's desire to never give up this late in the season.
CEO says Conseco's name no longer says insurance | Indianapolis Business Journal
The Indianapolis Business Journal also looks into the Conseco name change.
Jazz-Pacers Preview - STATS Senior Writer - NBA - Sporting News
A look into tonight's matchup between the Jazz and Pacers at the Reggie Miller Fieldhouse.