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The Young And The Expirings: Pacers Stuck With Each Other For The Rest Of The Year

Larry Bird had a pretty busy week considering he didn't do anything.

The NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday afternoon with one last flurry of rumors involving a possible deal between the Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats.  But much like the H.O.R.S.E. game in the ol' McDonald's commercial, the negotiations between Bird and Michael Jordan remained at a stalemate when time ran out.

Bruno's Caught In The Web today puts a bow on the deadline dealings which Bird says were constant this week.

Team President Larry Bird said he had talks with "probably 20 teams" leading up to the 3 p.m. deadline but no deal was consummated.

"We were very active, but we always said we weren't going to do anything to jeopardize our future," Bird said. "If we could've picked up another young guy along the way we thought had some talent, we probably would've done it."

Reportedly, T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush were in the trade rumor spotlight today after the light has been focused on Troy Murphy for much of the run up to the deadline. The players seem to enjoy ribbing one another about the rumors and I'm sure no one is disillusioned about the business side of the game. Heck, half the team has plenty of experience for the others to lean on.

So tomorrow night, the Pacers gather together again to begin the remaining 29 games of the season. When management begins talking about players as expiring contracts as opposed to forwards or point guards, there has to be a little bitterness no matter how well masked.

Suddenly the locker room is divided into the young core players expected to be around past 2011 and the expiring contract players who are expected to move on by the summer of 2011. In the end, at least for the remainder of the season, the players have each other to trust and play for even if that includes continuing to bust balls over future destinations.

As I've mentioned before, advananced statistical analysis is incredible and intrigues me greatly even if I can't always wrap my head around how the numbers are derived, but the emotional and psychological part of the game excites me even more.

What makes guys tick? How can they handle certain situations? Do they learn and show progress after struggling in similar past situations?

An NBA team is one big freakin' chemistry experiment, constantly exposed to different variables. Some of those variables are known and some are not. 

For instance, was T.J. Ford put back in the playing rotation simply to help his trade value? Now that we're past the deadline, does Ford go back to the bench to allow rookie A.J. Price more minutes to mature his NBA game?

Since Earl Watson isn't expected back next season, does he take a seat and let Ford and Price run the point since they may be the only two point guards on the roster to begin next season?

Obviously, I want A.J. Price to play regardless of how Ford and Watson are handled. I may be accused of being obsessed with Price at this point, but really, I don't have crazy expectations for the rookie. I have high hopes that he can develop into a solid point guard option for a good team, even a great team if surrounded by more lethal offensive options. But a solid second unit point guard at worst doesn't seem too far off base.

The other reason I keep pushing for Price is that the Pacers are WAY over due for some good news out of the blue. Seeing Price become a factor as a late second round pick is the type of positive variable the Pacers desperately need more of right now.

So the young players, like Price need time to develop this year but those "expiring" player remain valuable to help the team compete and even more valuable in helping those young guys develop and learn. Watching how the concotion of the "young and the expirings" mix together for the rest of the season should be interesting.