In mere-paperwork-formality news, the Pacers today picked up contract options of the newly acquired Darren Collison and the we-think-now-healthy Tyler Hansbrough, locking them in for the 2011-12 at the paltry sums of $1.5 and $2.1 million, respectively.
No-brainer moves obviously — as was the recent picking up of Roy Hibbert’s fourth-year option. (He will make $2.6 in 2011-12.)
The only reason this is even post-worthy, really, is because Brandon Rush now has the awkward distinction of being the only player on the roster whose option might not get picked up by the team. They still have time to do so (until November 1), but at this point management is either (a) sending Brandon a very clear sign of no confidence to motivate him or (b) seriously thinking they might not want to commit $3 million to a player they have tried to sell as part of their young, promising future — and one who has started 83 of the 153 games he has played in a Pacers uniform.
So that leaves Brandon Rush as the only player on the roster with an unresolved team option for next season. Rush has struggled during the preseason with a five-game suspension hanging over his head. But with Danny Granger hobbled Rush appears set to start against Minnesota on Tuesday night as coach Jim O’Brien would prefer to keep rookie Paul George coming off the bench in the role the rook expects to play when the regular season starts.
Rush always seems to be hanging around when injuries strike his teammates allowing him plenty of playing time, but these last few preseason games may just be Rush’s last chance to earn the fourth year of his rookie contract.
We shall see.
But given that the Pacers had to take on James Posey’s onerous salary ($7.2 million this year and $7.6 million next season) in order to get Collison, it might make a lot more fiscal sense to just part ways with Brandon after the year. He perhaps still has the potential to become a solid defender in this league, but since the team is all but certain to have Posey, Dahntay Jones, Paul George and Danny Granger all on the wing, do they really need to be paying Rush $3 million to clog up the perimeter with a guy who, two years in, looks to be nothing more than a mediocre player at best?
With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and/or lockout looming, I’m not sure you do — particularly considering that adding an extra $3 million in flexibility to the other $30-ish million in possible cap room (Dunleavy + TJ Ford + Jeff Foster + Jamaal Tinsley’s buyout all come off the cap next Summer) has to be pretty enticing.