[From the Fan Posts, drsuessrunner07 runs through the Pacers' expiring contracts. This is just one of several great Fan Posts of late so check them all out. -TL]
Contract Year. It has more meaning in the NBA than any other sport because if you have a good contract year that means that you're going to get paid the next several years (see Austin Croshere's deal after his 2000 season). So how many of the current Pacers who are in their contract year will have career years? Whats at stake for them? Who's fighting just to stay in the league? Can some of them stay healthy this year? Well lets look at each of them and what we should expect this year from each of them.
Troy Murphy. Out of the group of Pacers who will face free agency next year Murph has been without a doubt the most productive of them (but somehow remains my least likable Pacer, There's just something about watching a professional athlete play who has the same game as a 40 year old Y league average Joe running from 3 point line to 3 point line that upsets me. Sam Perkins can do it, Murph cannot, I'm sorry). I think this year we can expect Murphy to be the same double-double producer he has been in years past. The biggest question with him is that if he is having a good year and the Pacers are in the playoff hunt what do we do? Trade him for prospects/players or keep him and hope he resigns at the end of the year. Being the Pacer with the most trade weight this will be a very difficult decision for Bird to make if the Pacers are winning. My guess is if we're winning we keep Murph and hope we either sign him for less than we're currently paying him or work some sign and trade for him at seasons end. if we're losing he's gone.
TJ Ford. TJ's a lot different in the case of Murph because he's been terrible since he came to Indiana. But something tells me that will change this year. Ford was a college national player of the year, a legitimate NBA starter in Milwaukee and Toronto and seems to be a pretty intelligent guy. At this point he wants to leave Indiana but he also wants to get paid. That's why I don't think we'll see TJ sitting quietly on the bench this year as the teams 3rd PG. He'll be balls to the wall doing what he can do to put himself in a good position going into 2011. And although I don't really know anything about TJ personally you can't argue that he just looks like one of those guys who definitely show up during his contract year.
Mike Dunleavy. For the first time in a couple years I think we'll see Duns playing more at Conseco Fieldhouse this year. It's amazing how a contract year can cause an injury to go away and a player will just play through it. What scare's me about Dunleavy though is that he might be done regardless whether he tries to play or not. Dunleavy eats, breathes and sleeps basketball, I think that if he still had some sort of game we would of seen it by now, but I don't think that will stop him from trying to give it a go this year. I just hope he can stay relatively healthy until the trade deadline.
Jeff Foster. Personally I wish that Foster would just announce this was his last year as a Pacer before he takes a PR job in the Pacers front office. Unless the Pacers get an unbelievable deal for Foster or have a chance to send Foster to a winner I don't think we trade him. He's just been with the organization too long. Truth is, the best case scenario for Jeff if he doesn't get traded is to have a fantastic year this year and sign a one year deal somewhere for one last shot at a winner. I still think he retires as a Pacer though after this year.
Solo Jones. Solo is the Pacer who could have a legitimate reality show about him this year. Reason being because if Solo does not have a good year this year he will be playing professional basketball in some 2nd rate country in Europe next season. Can you think of a better motivation to give it the best you've got? Now does Solo have he tools to make it in the NBA? My guess is barely. He's a minimum level guy who always will be a minimum level guy and we will let him go at the end of the year and forget he was ever here.
Josh McRoberts. Local Kid. Lots of Energy. Unless someone offers him much more than he's worth I think McBobs is the one guy we resign next year for sure. He is the ideal bench player you want to have on your team and I hope the Pacers recognize this and keep him in a Pacers uniform.
So in summary my synopsis is that McBobs will stay, Solo and Duns are gone because they cant play, TJ will run out of Indy as soon as he can but I think he will have a good year, Foster is welcome to stay this year but that's about it, and the Murph situation is fluid. Also I believe the Pacers will be organizing a parade sometime next summer to celebrate Jamaal Tinsley's contract finally coming off the books.