After a long season, A.J. Price no longer feels like a rookie.
"Not really, the season's almost over so I'll be glad next year when being a rookie is officially over," Price said when asked about the making it through his first NBA season. "It's been a long season for all of us, a lot of up and down, but we're closing out the season right."
The good thing for Price is that he survived his rookie season to play another year. After walking into the Fieldhouse with nothing guaranteed as a late second round pick, he earned a roster spot, playing time and a glean in many a fan's eye as the potential point guard of the future for the Pacers.
Yeah, about that last part. There's still plenty of work left before Price is leading an NBA team, let alone the Pacers.
Jim O'Brien certainly isn't ready to hand the point guard reins over to Price. Prior to Monday night's game, the Pacers' coach offered a little buzz kill for anyone with high expectations for Price's future when asked how Price factors into the Pacers' search for a solution to solidify the point guard position."I don't think he's the solution," O'Brien responded. "There's a reason he was drafted in the 50's. I think a lot of people missed the boat from a stand-point of drafting him earlier than that but he's got a long way to go."
"I don't think we would be real happy to say that he's necessarily going to be the point guard of the future," JOB reiterated just in case we missed the initial diss. "I think frankly, until proven differently, we need to do better at the point guard. And that's not to say that I'm not very pleased with A.J., I am. I just think he's going to be a very solid backup the next couple of years and if he can work in with us or with another team and earn a starting job, that might be down the road but it's not going to be in his second year."
I have to admit, initially these comments were surprising, and the negative tone and the quick first response that JOB didn't think Price was the solution sounded a little like he had given up on the rookie already.
But after listening to it a few more times and digesting the whole comment, JOB's analysis of Price is about spot on. The delivery was far from diplomatic, but thinking about Price as a reserve point guard playing in a utility role off the bench seems like a perfect fit.
He's not a dynamic, play-making point guard, but supporting that type player would make Price a valuable commodity. I'm thinking a Derek Fisher type of career, which would be fabulous.
Price expects to stay around the Fieldhouse during the offseason and participate in any Summer League activities. Every chance to play is a chance to prove he belongs and secure a role in the franchise. Even it it's not a starting role.