Larry Bird recently stirred up some news when he said that he was about to walk away from the NBA this summer but stuck around mainly as “a favor” to a long-time boss and friend, Pacers owner Herb Simon. As it now stands, Bird is running the show on a one-year contract that includes a gentleman’s handshake agreement to re-evaluate after next season and possibly re-up for another year.
From Larry’s general public demeanor of late, however, I don’t think there are many people who would be surprised if this was the final go-around in a Hall of Fame NBA career that began in the 1970s.
So it is also no shock to learn that the Pacers are about to hire former Trailblazers GM Kevin Pritchard, according to multiple reports. Pacers super scoop Mike Wells broke the news of Indiana hiring Pritchard.
The Pacers are in the process of hiring former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard, according to multiple sources.
He added that Pritchard’s role was still uncertain given the fact that Bird already has an understudy in David Morway.
Its unclear what Pritchard’s role will be w the Pacers but he’ll work under President Larry Bird and GM David Morway, according to sources
This is another move that should excite Pacers fans.
For a time, Kevin Pritchard was the darling GM of the league. He became known for his talent evaluation skills and orchestrating savvy draft-day deals. “You got Pritch-slapped” was common NBA dork parlance at one point in reference to any GM who was foolish enough go toe-to-toe in a trade with Pritch.
His greatest moment undoubtedly came on June 28, 2005, the day of the 2005 NBA Draft in which Portland acquired the only two draftees that have so far made an All-NBA team. At the time, it seemed quite likely that he got the two best players available, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, despite only having one pick in the lottery. In hindsight, the concerns over Roy’s knee were real and Rajon Rondo, drafted at #21 by Boston, is probably better than Aldridge, but the team rebounded to relevancy largely based on what happened that night.
Two years later, however, the beginning of the end likely started. Pritch and the Blazers took Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. And we know how that turned out.
Stripped of golden boy status and increasingly, according to reports, caught up in squabbles with other high-level Portland personnel, Pritchard fell out of favor with billionaire owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Compensation and control became issues, reportedly, and eventually Allen felt that Pritch could no longer co-exist with the franchise. He fired Pritchard, leaving many NBA fans who were unaware of the growing internal turmoil scratching their heads.
That’s all in the past though.
Pritchard arrives anew with the Pacers and the future is all that matters to Hoosiers. Unfortunately, there are many questions. Will Bird groom Kevin to take over his job next season? Where does this leave David Morway? Is the team going back to the co-GM strategy employed during the Walsh/Bird days that so many fans loathed?
All these issues will play out in time. There could be conflict during the structural transition or it could all work seamlessly. Who knows really?
But, for now, the Pacers now stand as one of the biggest winners so far this offseason among those teams that lacked a top pick in the draft.
In George Hill, they have acquired a proven veteran who can produce on the court and bring a champion’s calm to a precarious, listless locker room. In Frank Vogel, they have secured the services of a guy who helped this team turn the corner towards hope more than a half-decade of flailing mediocrity. In Brian Shaw, they have acquired a veteran assistant who learned the coaching craft from the best to ever do it and was widely considered a front-runner to coach the Lakers. And in Kevin Pritchard, they have acquired an executive who has an excellent track record of finding creative ways to infuse a team with talent — the one thing this franchise truly needs.