Larry Bird Considering Big Moves Before NBA Trade Deadline

Larry Bird's recent comments to Chris Tomasson shed a little light on three topics of great importance to the immediate and long-term future of the Indiana Pacers.

Bird's thoughts on the team's options prior to the NBA trade deadline, his future with the organization and Jim O'Brien's future for the rest of the season are all worthy of comment on their own and I appreciate the FanPosts, FanShots and comments doing just that since the story rose up through the interwebs yesterday.

The most titillating quotes are those regarding possible action before the trade deadline aimed at upgrading the talent level with a veteran scoring option to run along the team's young players.

But Bird, the Pacers president, said his preference is to use his assets to swing a deal by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to acquire a key player.

"I would do that,'' Bird, 54, who is contemplating retiring from the NBA after this season, said in an interview with FanHouse. "I've got my draft choice (a 2011 first-round pick). The thing I always say is, 'Do you save it and see what the rules are (under a new collective bargaining agreement) or do you use it?' But, if get that opportunity, I'm going to use it (by the trade deadline). ... Do you wait or do you do it? I've made my mind up and I've talked to (Pacers owner Herb) Simon about it, and I've told him what I want to do, if we can get a good player.''

Later in the story, Bird mentioned the need to add a veteran to the mix, presumably to help share the scoring load with Danny Granger. Then you see a story like this about David West and the mind starts to fill with a wish list of possibilities.

There are a handful of veteran players that might be available on teams looking to shed payroll or go in another direction. In all cases it would require the Pacers to take on a hefty salary. For instance, in a case like Kevin Martin or Luis Scola both players have around $35 million remaining on their deals. A seemingly perfect option would be to deal for David West, but the Pacers and West would need to agree on a contract extension which would likely be around four years and as much as $10 million per year.

Personally, I could live with a West deal in order to add another reliable scorer and pick ‘n roll partner for Darren Collison as long as the deal was front-loaded as much as possible. The only problem is that West would need to sign on the line and at 31 he may be looking for a championship-ready situation.

So essentially, if West is looking for a ring the Pacers are hosed. But if cash tops his priority list, then the Pacers should be in play. While they don't want to overpay for a guy like West, the Pacers could overpay for a year and then let the remaining life of the contract level out to maintain financial flexibility in the future.

Window shopping is tons of fun, but there's still this annoying little chunk of my brain that keeps telling me this is crazy talk. That the expiring contracts the Pacers have may fetch some assets for yet more moves later down the road, but not a ready-made, big-time addition too the current lineup.

Maybe I've just conditioned myself for the long haul, keeping an eye on young players that are trending into big-time players as possible free agent targets once their rookie deals are done.

It also leads into story number two from Bird's comments, in which he says he doesn't know if he'll return to run the basketball operations next season. He's set up a good situation for an astute GM to utilize to improve the team quickly and I've been assuming that Bird would walk away after this season knowing he left the situation in far better shape than when he took it over three years ago.

But if Bird himself makes a decision to use up a good chunk of those assets before the trade deadline, doest that mean he's leaning towards staying on if Herb Simon agrees? We'll see what actually happens but a big move would certainly indicate Bird wants to maintain control of the team. Of course, Bird's successor could be waiting in the wings and willing to take over whatever situation Bird leaves behind.

You want scenarios? The Pacers have their share of possible scenarios in play.

With all of the expiring contracts on the bench and in the front office, there will be no shortage or storylines and rumors as we move towards the February 24th trade deadline and every move will have a ripple effect with immediate and long-term consequences for the franchise.

Buckle up!

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