UPDATE: Earl Watson Live Chat

Sorry for the short lead time, but the Pacers newest acquisition will be chatting live with fans today at 4:30. Click here to join in or follow along.

Earl Watson, a point guard with eight years of NBA experience in Seattle, Memphis, Denver and Oklahoma City, was officially introduced today by Larry Bird.

Said Larry Legend:

“We’re very glad to have Earl as part of our team,” said Pacers President of Basketball Larry Bird. “I’ve been watching him for years. He’s a solid point guard that we know can help us on the defensive end.”

Much like most of the other Pacer moves this summer, Watson isn’t anything to be overly excited about, but aside from some reported differences of opinion on playing time last season, he has always had a sterling reputation as a great teammate. Plus he plays defense and is definitely a serviceable floor general who Jim O’Brien should be able to trust even in a starting role during those inevitable stretches when TJ Ford is hampered by injury.

UPDATE: I didn’t follow this live, but Pacers.com has the transcript still up.

Here are some of the highlights from Earl’s Q&A session:

4:30 [Comment From Luke]
What would you say the strengths of your game are?
4:30
I think playing in transition offensively and defensively setting the tone, being aggressive and physical on the ball, and also making my teammates better.
4:31 [Comment From Kyle]
Earl, I’m glad the Pacers added you to our roster. Your veteran presence along with T.J., Danny, Mike, Troy, Dahntay, and Jeff should help tremendously to our young and improving roster. I look forward to seeing you on the court. Any clue as to your jersey number?
4:32
No. 2. I’ve known Brandon Rush since he was about 5 years old. He wears my number 25. I don’t know if he copied me and wanted to be like me or because I love him like a brother — honestly, we’re like family. I just decided to let him represent it to the fullest and I’m just going to take the two part of it. LOL.
4:34 [Comment From Evan]
Did any Pacer players contact you prior to your signing that encouraged you to join the Pacers as opposed to some other team? If so, who?
4:36
I actually play pickup with Danny Granger all the time at UCLA so I see him a couple fimtes a week. It was pretty much a done deal so he didn’t have to recruit me. And I talked to Brandon on the phone. He was excitted till I asked for my jersey number, then he hung up and I haven’t heard from him since. LOL.
4:38 [Comment From matt]
Any lingering problems from last year’s fractured thumb?
4:39
No, it’s finally healthy. My doctor said it would take a year and he was pretty accurate. I’ve been working really hard to get back to the year where I had my career numbers. If you look at my stats over last season, the longer the season went the better my percentages got. I came back too early but that’s the type of player I am. I’m addicted to the game that I love.

Aside from the fact that he used the term “LOL” twice, it actually looked like it was a pretty good chat. Nice to see that Earl has a little character to him. I think his public persona has always tended towards the more robotic side.

To me, that’s often the best part about a veteran acquisition; you get to closely familiarize yourself with a guy who you have previously only watched from afar.

As to the thumb injury, this, along with OKC’s focus on playing its young players last season, can hopefully give Pacer fans some confidence that the 30-year-old Watson’s subpar stats last season were only a anomalous blip on the radar and not a sign that his NBA career has already begun its downslope.

Conrad spoke to this point in his write up yesterday.

He’s 30, entering his ninth NBA season. He’s not far removed from career-high averages of 10.7 points and 6.8 assists with Seattle in 2007-08, his last fully healthy season.

He dealt with the residual effects of coming back ahead of schedule from a fractured thumb last season and wound up shooting a career-low .235 from the 3-point line. The previous three seasons, he shot a combined .367 from the arc.

Given what the O’Brien system usually does for 3-point percentage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Watson eclipse 40% this season from behind the arc — or even be completely shocked to see him reach 42%, really. Dunleavy, Troy and Diener all shot well above their career highs from three under O’Brien.

Why not Watson, too?

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