The Indiana Pacers officially signed Earl Watson to a contract today, that we know for sure. But whether that contract says he will be a Pacer for only one year or multiple years, that is not clear.
Immediately after the signing, the Pacers released a story stating that Watson signed a multi-year contract with the club and, per team policy, the rest of the details (the money side) would not be discussed. Indianapolis Star reporter Mike Wells, who broke the story last week that the Pacers would sign Watson, has been writing all along that he would sign only a one-year deal with Indiana. Wells is sticking to his story.
Wells is reporting that Watson signed a one-year, $3 million deal, and after the Pacers released conflicting details, Wells checked with sources again and they stand by the one-year contract story. I've tweeted and facebook'd Pacer officials looking for an answer but, so surprisingly, have not received a reply. I'd believe Wells before I trust the Pacers, but you would think they'd know how many years they just tied up a backup point guard to on his contract. Or would they? Hmm, maybe that explains the Austin Croshere deal...
I know one of the things that let me really embrace bringing Watson to this team was the opportunity to also get him off the books next summer with just a one-year deal. That would at least allow the contracts Travis Diener, Watson and possibly T.J. Ford (player option) to vanish into thin air during the big summer of 2010. But a multi-year deal obviously changes that. Maybe he's a guy who comes back from a bad situation last year and makes us want to keep him, but I'm really hoping that Wells is correct and the Pacers just screwed up their story here.
Check out the jump for more details on Watson and his chat with fans today.
Watson becomes the 12th player under contract for the Pacers next year. He's coming off a tumultuous season in Oklahoma City, which you can read about here, but his quotes today obviously sounded like a happy guy who's glad to have some new digs.
Watson, who went from starter to benchwarmer with the Thunder last year, had this to say about his role with the Pacers:
"My role is helping the team win. Being a leader whichever way I can be. Whether it's by skill or being vocal or by example; just going out and helping the team win."
Team president Larry Bird added: "We're very glad to have Earl as part of our team. I've been watching him for years. He's a solid point guard that we know can help us on the defensive end."
The Pacers also hosted an online chat with fans so Watson could get real with the people of Indiana. Here were some of his more interesting comments:
"I think someone who's going to hold himself accountable on and off the court. I'm a player that's going to be versatile and determined to help this team win, and always looking for the opportunity to make this team better. I emphasized to my agent I wanted go to a team that was on the verge of winning if not already winning, a team that could play deep into the playoffs, but at the same time exciting to play with -- character guys, organization, city.
In this offensive system I think everyone grows. It's going to be fun for me to go back to my Denver days and early Seattle days and shoot a lot of threes. And also scoring in transition, mid-range jumpers in transition which P.J. Carlesimo emphasized, really help me grow.
[on being the starting point guard] It's a decision for the coaching staff to make. A lot will depend on rotations, matchups or strategy. When you get to the NBA, it's so deep. You look at guys like Jason Terry and Ginobili, who come off the bench and play the whole game. What I want to do most is make the playoffs and make a push, more than start."
He also mentioned he has very close relationship with Brandon Rush and he'll wear No. 2 on his blue and gold jersey this season.
Other notes: Wells said in his story that Solomon Jones will officially ink his contract in the next two days. He also noted the Larry Bird insists the team will carry only 14 players on the roster heading into this season. Jones will become the 13th man on the roster.