When an NBA team is as bad as this year’s Pacers are, everything comes into question. The players. The coach. The GM. So it’s no surprise that a lot of fans, both of the Pacers and just the NBA in general, have been wondering if Larry Bird might be — or even should be — on his way out.
Pacers Sports and Entertainment President Jim Morris gave Bird, Pacers president of basketball operations, a hearty vote of confidence yesterday.
Bird’s contract expires in 2011, and some have speculated that team owner Herb Simon is becoming impatient with Bird. Morris said that’s not the case.
“Larry Bird has everyone’s confidence here,” Morris told IBJ. “He’s working as hard as humanly possible. And we know he will do what it takes to get us a championship caliber team.”
Morris said he and Simon realize the strategy to re-build the Pacers is a multi-year plan. Much of that appears to revolve around clearing player salary cap space to bring in key free agents following the 2010-11 season.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have total confidence in Larry’s ability to turn this thing around, but I certainly don’t think he should be fired before given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Regardless of how the team is doing right now, and regardless of what errors in judgment may have been made, the owners can’t tell a guy “we’re with you on a three-year turnaround plan” and then go and fire the guy 18 months later.
The time line for righting the ship was set for Summer 2011. Everyone was on board with this. From a salary cap perspective, it was the only real option after the decisions were made to get rid of the troublemakers even if that meant bringing in bad contracts. I’m sure Larry was among those committing to that reality and realizing that it might mean an extended rebuild, but it was an organizational decision, not just a choice made by one man.
The plan was to be back in better shape to contend in the Summer of 2011. Until then, and despite any fun we might like to have at the guy’s expense, Larry deserves to be the captain of this rickety ship.