This offseason, Larry Bird isn’t showing much flex. He has made some offers, but they are all under his terms. When the terms of the David West acquisition came out (two years, $20 million), I was floored. I had long thought that the Pacers signing West would be a mistake. But that was based off a fear of his knee and age, and — most importantly — presuming it would take a four-year offer north of $38 million to sign the former All-Star forward.
But nabbing a guy of his talent, who may have no fall-off from his knee injury, for only $10 million and only committed for two years? That’s not just a no-brainer. It’s genius. On Twitter, me and Tim were speculating about how Bird might have been able to pull this off.
I thought that the Legend must have brought in Rick, the bald pawn broker from the TV show Pawn Stars. He is a notoriously tough negotiator and my joke was that the conversation between the Rick and David West’s agent went something like this.
David West’s agent: “We’re looking for a four-year offer.”
Pawn Star General Manager: “I was thinking more like two.”
West’s agent: “I can’t go that low. How about three?”
Pawn Star GM: “How about one?”
West agent: ” … … hmmm … … OK. You’ve got a deal.”
Pawn Star GM: “All right. *shakes hands* Let’s go do some paperwork.”
Tim had a different theory: “How did Bird get West for 2 years? Perhaps, ‘I’m Larry ****ing Bird’ occasionally works.”
Reports also had Bird sticking to his guns in the OJ Mayo-for-Josh McRoberts trade discussions. Larry wanted Mayo — has targeted him repeatedly now — but he seemed unwilling, according to reports, to do the deal unless the Grizzlies took back the final year of Brandon Rush’s contract (worth $2.9 million). Now, word is that those talks collapsed because the Grizzlies took Mayo off the table (perhaps due to a significant injury to another of their guards, Xavier Henry). But they were definitely interested in McRoberts and Mayo seemed someone they were willing to part with at the right price. To some degree, we can postulate that Bird simply was not prepared to meet that price.
There may be another reason for that: Jamal Crawford. He has been high on the list of players Bird is reportedly trying to sign this offseason. He would definitely fill what is to me the team’s most glaring need: someone who can create his own shot off the dribble. It is clear why Bird would want to add Jamal’s arsenal of offensive weapons to a perimeter rotation that includes Danny Granger, Paul George, Darren Collison and George Hill. There isn’t a dynamic penetrator or high-level shot-creator among that lot.
So, especially with the Mayo-as-dynamic-ball-handler option now dead, Bird has to be panicking, right? He must be calling Crawford’s agent to sweeten the pot?
Sources w/knowledge of deal say Pacers have two-year offer out to Jamal Crawford worth $10M with out to return to free agency next summer
Again, he is offering a guy who was presumed to be near the top of the free agent crop only two years. The player option next year is a carrot that suggests “I’m not trying to hurt your potential to make money on your own terms over the next few years, but I’m not guaranteeing you the three or four years of financial security you’re seeking.”
And this is with the full knowledge that Jamal has other teams bidding for his services.
Pacers, though, could still be outbid by Wolves, who want Crawford to play 2 guard next to Rubio with Barea completing three-guard rotation
If Bird misses out on both Mayo and Crawford (not to mention the other players we have no evidence he has played hardball with), he may face some criticism. And that will be fair. But wasn’t the opposite approach what everyone blamed the lockout on? Wasn’t in the fiscal irresponsibility of small-market teams signing players to insane contracts half the problem?
I’m sure Larry doesn’t care about that. But he does seem to be setting his price and refusing to budge. He knows these assets on the market have value. But he knows he needs to turn a profit.
He wants to make a deal, but he doesn’t need to make a deal.
He’s the Pawn Stars GM.