PHOENIX - DECEMBER 03: T.J. Ford #5 of the Indiana Pacers puts up a shot over Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 3 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
T.J. Ford and the Indiana Pacers mutually agreed to part company some time ago while waiting for Ford hit the free agent market this offseason. Only problem for Ford is that the official NBA offseason has yet to begin thanks to the lockout, so his future remains in flux.
A couple of days ago, HoopsWorld caught up with Ford during a break at the "Lockout League" in Las Vegas. Ford didn't say anything surprising, stating he wanted to play for a contender regardless of the role he had in the playing rotation. I was surprised to see that picked up elsewhere (for example, here and here) mentioning that T.J. was willing to accept a smaller role to play on a winning team.
A smaller role? What is smaller than being inactive? Ford put up a load of DNP's, many inactive, while playing sparingly in three of the team's final 44 games of the regular season. To his credit, Ford never made a public spectacle of his lack of playing time, but the man has pride and certainly wants to play. When you read the quote from HoopsWorld, you see he is ready to play a role, any role, on a winning team. Just not a diminished role, that's not possible.
"First, it's about winning," Ford told HOOPSWORLD. "I want to be on a team where it's about winning and they're heading in the right direction. Definitely, it's a team that's going to be in the playoffs and go further than just the first round. I just want to be part of a team. Whether that means playing 10, 15, 20, 30 or 35 minutes, I just want to be one of the factors that helps the team win."
Regardless of where Ford ends up, his new team won't be buying trouble. Apparently he's been exhibiting a professional attitude since his high school days. Congrats to T.J. and his mom, Mary Ford, for being recognized at Willowridge High School in Houston with a class and character award which includes induction into the school's Wall of Fame.