With the Pacers visiting the Knicks today, Peter Vecsey made their front office situation the lead in his Sunday morning column. Probably the biggest nugget of actual information included was this:
It says here Larry Bird, who has sold his Indianapolis home and is moving back to Florida where his son plans to finish college, general manager David Morway and Vogel are on the precipice of becoming ex-Pacers.
Well, it says here that the nugget of actual info is about the sale of Bird’s house and his impending move to Florida, and that nugget is surrounded by trademark Vecsey speculation. The rest of the column (related to the Pacers) is more of the same, but it’s worth addressing nontheless. Here’s are the key points of what Mr. Vecsey thinks might happen:
I’m not saying owner Herb Simon won’t try to re-enlist Bird, though that’s a distinct possibility. Should an offer be extended, however, it definitely won’t be remotely near the $5 million he will have banked for eight straight seasons — more like $1 million, tops, per year for three or four.
That’s quite the haircut. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but if it is, it raises two seriously disturbing questions about Herb Simon. First, what is it exactly about the job that Larry Bird is doing that would make Simon think, “You, at $5 mil, he ain’t cuttin’ it, but at a mill, I’m cool.”? Second, and more importantly, does this mean that he’s willing to forgo fundamental basketball goals for fiscal concerns?
For whatever reason, if Simon and Bird do part ways, the natural progression is for Donnie Walsh to return from whence he came and where his wife, daughter and dogs still live on adjoining properties.
Regardless whether James Dolan wants Walsh back next season or not, it’s easy to conceive the Knicks’ president concluding his health would be better served by escaping New York’s laboratory and its microscope-wielding multitude, and perhaps re-stake his claim to his former Pacers position, if not re-control of Conseco Fieldhouse.
Vecsey himself acknowledges that this is possibly a fantasy, but it’s one that makes some degree of sense — at least from Herb Simon’s point of view. For roughly 22 of the first 25 years that the Simons owned the Pacers, Donnie Walsh was their de facto binky. He basically ran everything.
In 2008, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that Herb and Mel Simon preferred to keep Donnie Walsh and fire Bird.
Walsh’s future with the Pacers also remains up in the air. According to a high-ranking Pacers official, the team’s co-owners, Herbert and Melvin Simon, are hoping to retain Walsh and fire team president Larry Bird. The same source indicated that Walsh has too much respect for Bird to fire him and then reassume full control of the team.
So, will Donnie Walsh be coming home to the Pacers? While I can’t say that that interest exists in Donnie Walsh’s mind, or that any plans are being made in Herb Simon’s, I have little doubt that Simon would be perfectly fine with such a scenario.