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Watson Could Make Pacers Pay This Summer

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This probably wasn't even a discussion one month ago for the Indiana Pacers. And maybe that dictates the final answer. But Earl Watson's late-season push as the team's prominent point guard will force the team to make another difficult decision with the PG spot this summer.

Watson, who signed a one-year contract last summer, could either stay or go with the Pacers this summer. Last summer, the Pacers let Jarrett Jack go to free agency and found Watson as a replacement.

As Bruno reported in his Caught in Web, Watson has been very consistent of late by getting comfortable with teammates as he's helped lead the push from a top-four lottery pick to the back of lottery contention. During the four-game winning streak, Watson has averaged 9.0 points and 9.8 assists with an assist:turnover ratio of 5.6. Bruno also reported that Watson has seemingly become a mentor for the young players such as Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush and Josh McRoberts. Coach Jim O'Brien couldn't hold back his appreciation for the point guard.

"I love his leadership," O'Brien said. "He's a guy that I certainly would value being in this franchise for a long time. He's been a very consistent performer for us and I certainly hope that we would consider having him in a Pacer uniform next year. We know we have T.J. under contract and we're going to have A.J. under contract. A lot depends upon the draft and what Larry (Bird) can do from the standpoint of personnel changes this summer. But Earl is certainly my kind of guy and I would love to have the opportunity to coach him again."

Of course, if the Pacers win the John Wall Sweepstakes (let us pray) then we won't even have this discussion. The fact that it took five months for Watson to come around is a red flag, along with the fact that his return would probably continue to stunt the growth of rookie A.J. Price, who needs as many minutes as possible.

Watson told Bruno that he's not thinking about next year, which fits right in with the Pacers selfish philosophy of late -- not caring about the future, only about winning now. Sounds like a perfect fit. More links after the jump.