Collison point guard of future -- and present
Just like that, the point guard position has been transformed from a question mark to an exclamation point.
The acquisition of rising star Darren Collison from New Orleans today in a four-team, five-player trade that sent Troy Murphy home to New Jersey gives the Pacers everything they had sought in a point guard – a dynamic young talent with a bright future as well as the ability to take over right away.
"I think it helps out tremendously," said team President Larry Bird. "Just like I told Darren awhile ago, I think this is the piece that we needed. We've got a lot of young talent here. Obviously some of the guys are new, very new, and raw but the vision I have for this franchise is to get the core group up and ready to go as quick as we can and this piece here will accelerate everything."
Collison, 22, was named to the 2009-10 All-Rookie First team after averaging 12.4 points and 4.7 assists, shooting .477 overall and .400 from the 3-point line. He established his credentials as a starter while Chris Paul was out with an injury, averaging 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 37 starts. He not only increased is productivity but his efficiency, improving his shooting percentages to .490 overall and .429 from the 3-point line.
"He's a mature player," said General Manager David Morway. "We think he can come in here right away and make a difference. He's something we haven't had here in a long time."
The Pacers also acquired veteran forward James Posey in the deal. In addition to Collison and Murphy being dealt, Houston acquired guard Courtney Lee from New Jersey, and the Hornets obtained forward Trevor Ariza from the Rockets.
"(Posey) can bring a lot," said Bird. "He can even help Danny (Granger) out with some of the stuff he's learned over the years. He's very valuable. Any time you can bring guys in that have experience it's a plus. … James has been on championship teams and been around the league and knows how things need to be done."
With Posey joining a mix that already includes Granger, Brandon Rush, Paul George, Mike Dunleavy and Dahntay Jones, the Pacers are overloaded at the wing positions. That may only be a temporary problem as Bird indicated more moves could be on the way.
"We know what we want to do. We're still out there looking," he said. "We had a couple of calls this afternoon about some of our wings. Whether we'll make a move, I don't know, but obviously there's a lot of these guys we want to keep. We've got a lot of work to do yet and we'll see what happens in the next three or four months."
With Collison in the mix, the solution at power forward remains to be seen. Granger undoubtedly will spend some time at the position with rookie George at small forward. Other candidates for increased playing time include Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough, Solomon Jones and rookie Magnum Rolle.
"With the situation with Tyler last year, we hear he's healthy and ready to go, which would be a major plus for us," said Bird. "I have a lot of admiration for the young man. I know he can play and I'm just as excited as he is for him to get back out there and show everyone. We'll just take it a piece at a time. We've still got expiring contracts, we've got some veterans here, it's just a piece at a time. We're going to get this job done."
Murphy averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds last season, shooting .384 from the 3-point line. It was the second season in a row and fifth of his career in which he averaged a double-double.
"We hate to lose Troy," said Bird. "He was a great player for us, a great guy, a great teammate and I loved having him around but to be able to get something good you have to give up something."
Posey, 33, averaged 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds with the Hornets last season.