After a week of speculation, Larry Bird has announced that he will return as president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers on a year-to-year basis. Oh, and GM David Morway will also return in one of the biggest offseasons for the franchise in years, possibly ever. Were they really big surprises? Not really. Are fans going to be over the moon? Unlikely too, but people can't be too disappointed. After all, he is Larry Legend, and the Pacers have a bright future ahead of them.
“The past few months have been the most enjoyable since I took over as president of basketball operations,” Bird said. “To see our young players develop, to see us make the playoffs and then to see us compete in a hard-fought series with Chicago are indications we are headed in the right direction and it has made me even more determined to help this team improve further and go to the next level.”
According to the front office, the first task for the Pacers is to decide whether or not to keep interim coach Frank Vogel as the new official head coach, and if not, who will replace him.
No matter who coaches the Pacers next season, things are looking up. Danny Granger is only 28. The rest of the core, featuring Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George, are all under 25. A couple of good trades here and some decent signings there, and the Pacers should be regulars in the postseason for years to come. But can they be contenders?
When the smoke clears from the current bargaining dispute, the Pacers will have to decide how to spend their money after having approximately $33.6m come off the books over the summer (10.5m Dunleavy, 8.5m Ford, 6.7m Foster, 5.5m Tinsley, 1.5m S. Jones, 0.9m McRoberts) AND with the above core in tact. Not a bad position to be in. It will be difficult considering the Pacers are a small market and not the ideal destination for free agents, so the only way they can convince players to come is to overpay them or craft an intelligent trade.
Here's a video of Larry at his best.