Ford Demoted, On Trading Block

Pacers point guard T.J. Ford is on the trading block, which is and isn’t news.

It might be news to those of you hanging onto him in fantasy leagues
clinging to the hope that he’ll soon get his starting job back from
Earl Watson, but it isn’t news to anyone in an NBA front office.

Indiana has been trying to trade Ford for "years," an NBA source told on Sunday night as Ford sat out the entire 48 minutes and Indiana was steamrolled 132-89 by the New York Knicks. "Not weeks. Not months. Years," the source said.

Ford, the eighth overall pick of the 2003 draft, was demoted from starter to third-stringer (behind Watson and rookie A.J. Price) prior to Indiana’s victory on Saturday over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ford’s pecking-order status has dropped to just above the doghouse level that was occupied by Jamaal Tinsley all last season in Indiana.

It is a far, far fall for a player who started 25 of Indiana’s first 30 games this season, a fall that appears will remain permanent barring an injury to Watson or Price. The source cited above said Indiana has practically given up hope of trying to trade Ford, who is making $8.5 million and has a player option worth another $8.5 million for next season. He is so certain to exercise that option, we’ll go ahead at this early date and name him to the starting five on the 2010-11 dead money team.

Chances are, it’ll be money that will still be on Indiana’s cap a year from now, when "expiring contract" will be required to always appear in the same sentence with the words "T.J." and "Ford."

Because unlike two weeks ago when O’Brien switched Ford for Watson as the starter but then changed his mind a few games later (the huge difference in their plus/minus ratio was a major factor), this time the move sounds permanent.

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