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Bird, Morway Raise Expectations For Pacers' Improvement This Summer

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Larry Bird and David Morway put some pressure on themselves heading into the summer offseason. But why?

In Bird's post-season press conference he indicated that the team expected to make some changes this offseason with a few expiring contracts to work with and needs at key positions. Later that night, David Morway filled in for Jim O'Brien on his radio show and appeared even stronger in his convictions that they would be making some moves this summer.

According to Morway, the Pacers expect to be aggressive this summer and he indicated there would be some action on or around draft night which might include the Pacers' top pick. This on the heels of Jim O'Brien's comments before the last game that the he didn't want the team to wait until the summer of 2011 to make significant moves.

Obviously, he won't be around for 2011 if the team doesn't improve, but JOB's tone at the time indicated that he, too, expected some positive offseason moves to help the team. JOB isn't the only one headed into the final year of his contract, though. As Bird mentioned, the front office and scouts are all heading into their last year to be judged by Herb Simon. Maybe the aggressive offseason stance is simply borne of desperation to remain in position to take advantage of the future flexibility coming to the roster next year. But why not keep those intentions internal?

It left me wondering if they already have some general trade partners lined up, because I have to agree with this piece by Bob Kravitz which minimizes expectations based on common sense. Just what is a significant offseason move for the Pacers at the point?

T.J. Ford is the most logical cap clogging player on the roster that needs to be moved. Ford wants to go and the Pacers would surely like to put the $8.5 million Ford is due to better use. But who would make that deal without sending some junk back in return. Plus, despite the rosier cap situation the Pacers still won't have any wiggle room to avoid the luxury tax once the rookies join the team after the draft. Tim Donahue hammers home the point revealing that the projected salary cap for next year just allows the Pacers to breathe a little easier with regard to the luxury tax. It does change the expected bleak picture as far as the team making any significant improvements until the summer of 2011.

Yet, the front office has raised the bar on themselves even before knowing their draft position. We know they're willing to move Brandon Rush, but what about Roy Hibbert? Everyone has to be on the table if the Pacers are truly planning to make significant changes. Even so, moving up in the draft seems like it would be as hard as dealing Ford. Moving back may be easier, but can they keep their top pick?

To me, a major move this summer would be to somehow unload T.J. Ford or any of the team's expiring contracts. Moving up in the draft if need be would also get me excited. I just have a hard time seeing how it will happen. It's like the Pacers are stuck in the middle lane in rush hour traffic. They're trying to get over to the express lane but the bumper-to-bumper traffic (cap situation) has them boxed in. They need a driver (unsuspecting GM) in the outside lane to lose focus and create an opening (sure, we'll take T.J.) so the Pacers can slide over and then jump on the express lane.

All seems like wishful thinking to me.

So what would you consider a significant offseason move by the Pacers considering their current situation with a clogged cap and minimal assets?