Larry Bird to Fire David Morway, Replace Him with Kevin Pritchard

According to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, reigning NBA Executive of the Year Larry Bird plans to return as the Indiana Pacers’ president. But once he is officially set to lead the franchise again next year, Bird reportedly wants to make a major change to the front office: replacing current GM David Morway with his former Celtics teammate Kevin Pritchard, who was hired as Pacers’ director of player personnel in the 2011 offseason.

The reason is reportedly more about Bird’s poor relationship with Morway as it is with his respect for Pritchard’s basketball acumen, although the two are presumably intertwined.

The relationship between Morway and Bird reportedly became strained when the GM failed to acquire OJ Mayo (in a sign-and-trade deal for Josh McRoberts) or Jamal Crawford (through free agency) before the season. In fact, according to Wells, the two now have “no relationship,” and Morway is a “soon-to-be ousted general manager.”

The final straw with the Bird-Morway relationship, according to those close to the two, came during training camp when the Pacers failed to land O.J. Mayo and then lost out on free agent Jamal Crawford – option No. 2 to be the team’s first shooting guard off the bench – on the same day.

The Pacers had agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent Josh McRoberts to Memphis for Mayo because the Grizzlies were trying to shed salary. Sources say it was Morway that caused the deal to “fall apart” because he pushed the Grizzlies to take swingman Brandon Rush. Morway did a lot of talking to teams and some of the negotiating. Bird would then step in and make the final decision.

Bird was seething over the blown deal, according to sources. He had lost any remaining trust in Morway after that.

Bird had tried multiple times over the years land Mayo, who he felt would be the one player on the roster that could get his own shot off the dribble.

To make matters worse, Crawford and his agent got tired of waiting on the Pacers to make a decision that they told them the same day the Mayo deal fell apart that they weren’t going to sign with them.

It also showed, as Bird was never really with Morway during the games.

Things were so bad that during the playoffs Bird took the coaching staff and training staff out to dinner on back-to-back nights during their playoff series against Orlando and brought Pritchard along and didn’t invite Morway, his general manager, sources say. It was Pritchard who often sat next to Bird during the games on the road while Morway usually sat several rows higher.

It was no wonder that Morway interviewed with the Portland Trail Blazers to take over as their GM, a position once held by Pritchard.. That job, however, went to former Los Angeles Clippers GM Neil Olshey. Now, it looks like Bird will return and Morway will be out of a job. Presumably, this will be the biggest “question” that Larry will have for his owner, Herb Simon, when they sit down soon (next week has been reported by Wells) to make Bird’s return official. And if Simon wants Bird to continue to be team president — especially for under-market pay — it would likely be a no-brainer for him to allow Larry to have complete control over who comprises the front-office team.

Tags: David Morway Herb Simon Kevin Pritchard Larry Bird

  • Realist

    Man that’s annoying. We could’ve had Mayo’s rookie deal for a guy (McBob) who we let walk at season’s end. And the reason it fell through was because Morway was trying to attach something else outgoing (Rush) that wasn’t even required, who in turn we used to acquire Lou anyway.


  • Mike

    Man, having JC there in the playoffs instead of Leandro off the bench would have been clutch. A real shooter to spread the floor (and make shots) on the second unit. Hopefully Bird and Pritchard can make something happen this summer.

  • Ronal Eugene is Right!!

    A great executive for under market pay? TRADE HIM!!!!

  • Chris D.

    Intersting. At least I’m glad to know that we were in the running but blew it. I was worried that there was no interest by Mayo or Crawford at all in coming to the Pacers.

    Although, I wonder who made the decision to take Hill over Kawhi Leonard. Hill is good (and soon-to-be overpriced), but Leonard will be an all star.

  • Realist

    Hill for Leonard is still defensible though until that time comes though, which is no certainty, imo. While GH’s ceiling might be somewhat known, as 8p9s will tell you, he was our MVP for many a game this year, coming off the bench and delivering victories singlehandedly.

  • Ronal Eugene is Right!!

    Hill’s intangibles are what made the trade good for the Pacers. His leadership and locker room precense along with West’s are a big reason why the Pacers were so successful this year. Leonard would not have developed as quickly on this young Pacers team and who knows how this season would have gone if they would have added another rookie instead of an experienced vet. After Wade tweeted that the Pacers officially lost the Leonard trade I think he had 2 more points and a bunch of turnovers in the second half in a losing effort. Leonard definitely has talent and the trade looks bad if Hill walks, but Hill fit more of a need for the Pacers.

  • Aj

    The thing about George Hill over Leonard is a matter of the San Antonio coaching staff. George Hill is a great player with all those intangibles because of Pops. In an interview with Pops, he said Hill was his favorite player because when he first case into the league he couldn’t run the most simple of Pick and Rolls, but he had an incredible work ethic. Pops took that work ethic and made him into a professional basketball player. Leonard wouldn’t have had nearly as great of production as a rookie if he weren’t on San Antonio. Don’t forget when Leonard came out of San Diego State many people were saying he was a RAW talent. He didn’t shoot over 30% on 3 pointers….in College, but he was long and athletic and filled a void at SF for the Spurs. On the Pacers, he would have been stuck behind Granger and George which would have hurt his development. George Hill is staying; he wants to stay.

    As for Morway, good F*%#ing riddance. I can completely see why Bird would treat that guy like crap if he really botched up us getting a quality two guard like Mayo or Crawford. I knew there was something odd when I heard all the rumors last year about us getting Mayo, and then it suddenly just died over night. There’s no reason to get too mad about it though. The Grizzlies are still trying to shed payroll this summer because of Gasol, Gay, and Randolph, so we could make another run at him. Would you want him as your BACKUP shooting guard? I sure would. Then we don’t even need Eric Gordon!

  • Josh Dhani

    @Aj Do you think Eric Gordon would actually leave New Orleans now? They have two picks in the top 10 as they get Anthony Davis and maybe a guy like Lillard at the 10th pick. I’m sure Gordon will stay there.

    However, I think we can have another chance at signing JC if we can. And like you said, I guess we can still try trading for Mayo as well, although they have been rumored to been trying to trade Rudy Gay (despite Heisley’s comments) for signing Mayo.

  • Aj

    @Josh There is no way Eric Gordon is leaving by either choice or free will at this point. From comments Gordon has made with the press he is perfectly content with staying in New Orleans, and I doubt management would let him go being the only real thing they got out of the Chris Paul trade and the other things you mentioned

    With that said though we definitely still need to bolster up our backup shooting guard spot, and I’d be perfectly fine with JC or Mayo. I’d prefer Mayo, but there is a downside to that. He’ll be a restricted free agent so somebody might throw the bank at him, which in that case it might be better getting JC as a one year rental. Then next year we’ll have 15 million off the books next season between him and David West to give Paul George an extension.

  • Peter

    I believe changing GMs for the Pacers is a good thing, and I believe Bird has done a good job of rebuilding. But to play devil’s advocate with respect to last season and the failed Grizzle trade, if I remember correctly both teams finally agreed to a deal by bringing in a 3rd team but were too late to send in the paper work to the league office. More than likely it was the addition of Rush by Morway that caused the searching for a 3rd team and thus the delay. However in general, if two sides are negotiating in good faith, but just before a deal is made a new person is brought in finalize the deal, delays can be caused that way as well. Why wasn’t Morway given more concrete directives on what needed to be done that day? Also if the trade dealine was 5pm, then how come the Pacers didn’t set their own internal deadline earlier so they can have the time to do the paperwork? Furthermore, the failed trade hurt the team for several weeks because of the loss of trust. I am not blaming Bird, because he may not be setting the management structure, but something seems amiss. Hopefully with these changes those kind of problems will be ironed out.

    With regards to the Pacers needs right now they need 3 things: 1) a backup center, 2) a SF who can defend and hit 3s, and most importantly 3) a perimeter player who can score, get to the FT line, and facilitate offense for his teammates. I believe that is why there is some much talk, pro and con, about Gordon and Williams, because people know we need a facilitator/scorer. However if we do not land those two vets, we then need to draft and develop a player who can fulfill that need. We tried with Lance and are waiting for Paul George, but it hasn’t happened yet. The most likely position is PG to obtain a facilitator, and in this draft I believe it is Teague, and not because he is from Indy. Rather it is his scoring mentality with PG speed, but he his a work in progress. The young man from NC is an excellent passer, but he is limitied athletically. The question is we already have two PGs that we have acquired in the past two years, and one is set to enter veteran contract talks while the other is set to begin a year from now. Do you pay veteran money at position at which you are looking to upgrade? Who has the most trade value? I like Hill, but to continue on the Hill/Leonard trade debate I agree with the post that playing for the Spurs really helped Leonard. However had we kept Leonard, we would already have our SF and if we draft Teague then next year we wouldn’t have to worry about paying veteran money at the point while we are still trying to develop a facilitator. This offseason is this most important one for the Pacers, because the payroll is going to go back up towards the ceiling and thus limit what we can do the next few years. Hopefully, Bird can navigate the Pacers sucessfully this summer to setup years of winning seasons.

  • Evan

    @Josh it’s time for us to poach you over to IC. Jared’s lazy ass hasn’t published your articles in a few days. Does anyone else notice Indy Cornrows has more reads and viewers now. IC for Truehoop! C’mon Josh join the dark side.

  • Lawrence

    The pacers have to keep Pritchard around. How else is he going to pay back the organization for that inexcusable two year guaranteed contract given to Jeff Pendergraph?

  • Aj

    @Peter Last time i check George Hill gets to the line, can score on the perimeter and inside, and he’s working on the facilitating part. Considering he was locked out last year and had a condensed training camp to lean an ENTIRE offense, I’d say he’ll be fine. They guys got a warriors work ethic, and he’s been told that this offseason he should be prepping with a point guard mentality. Everyone is so quick to discredit this kid and look to Deron Willams or Steve Nash as an answer, but George Hill is young, but so incredibly mature for his age. Let’s just take a step back and realize that this team is so young and has an incredible amount of room for growth.

    As for the other needs you described, we definitely need a back up SF and I think that is the need we will end up addressing in the draft. It’s almost impossible to predict who will go where right now since teams are evaluating prospects, but I wouldnt mind getting Draymond Green. He doesn’t have much upside, but his big body will give him advantage early at sizing up his opponents, and at 6″7 he’s just slightly undersized for the position.

    But for the center position, I could possibly see us trying to go for a veteran at this spot, because they’re able to give spot up shooting and good interior defense, but I also like Fesenko. He only got 17 minutes on the floor the entire season because of an injury last season. Besides the fact that he can’t score….at all, he’s actually a great post defender, and at 7″1 280 pounds he’s not going to get pushed around.

    The best thing we can do is resign our guys, add a backup SF through the draft, develop our young guys, and maybe go at a guy like Mayo or Crawford who can come on the second squad and create their own shot without hogging the ball like Barbosa did all year.

  • gregor t.

    AJ, i agree with everything you said. Hill is much better suited to run the Pacers half-court style of offense than DC, who i like off the bench, but i doubt he sticks around past next year. I think DC wants to get back to a running team where he can start and get his numbers. I hope he stays with the Pacers as they continue to climb. I just don’t see it. He reminds me of Al Harrington and Antonio Davis. Hopefully, he doesn’t end up a starting PG for a losing team cause i like DC. He has been a true Pro. Frankly, i think he wants to be a Laker. Also, i agree the Pacers need a true SF to back up Granger. I like Draymond Green – a four year college player with great coaching and a high BBall I.Q. with multiple skills as a big. I also like Jeffrey Taylor from Vandy – a defensive minded wing with an improving outside shot and also a four year college player. Bird likes that kind of player coming off the bench – see Hans and Jones. As for a back up to Hibbert, maybe Fesenko ain’t the one just yet. But, Damn! I love that dude. Chemistry on any team is important, and from what i have heard he brings it. If he can stay healthy, block shots, rebound,and finish at the rim thats just a huge bonus for the Pacers. Again, love that dude. Of course, a playoff contributor would help – maybe Spencer Hawes, or Chris Kaman, at the 4/5, or OJ Mayo at the 2/3 at the trade deadline, if the Pacers stay under the cap – could be huge for the Pacers against the Heat. The Pacers need to stay the course, keep improving, and make smart moves when the time comes. The Bulls will, likely, be without DRose til at least January, which puts the Pacers in position to take the #2 seed in the East and make another run at the Heat for the Finals. The Pacers starters smoked the Heat in almost every game. They need a bench to push that advantage if they are to make it to the next level. Can i get an AMEN for a Paul George Fifteen Footer!

  • gregor t.

    By the way, if the Pacers lose Coach Shaw, as expected, would not Jerry Sloan be a perfect fit as a bench coach. I mean for just one year, pick and roll, help defense, block out rebounding. Isn’t Sloan a Hoosier?

  • Travis

    stay classy Evan

  • Marcus

    i love my pacers and the sky is the limit and this coming yr is our time to rule the east. Boston are done and The Bulls are done so as a pacers fan this is our yr and many more to come. After World Peace mess up our salary cap money. let go after some key player to help the starter out. peace out

  • Aj

    @gregor t. The thing is though we surely can’t go for a quality backup shooting guard and a quality backup Center/Power Forward if we resign Hibbert and George Hill. Kamen and Hawes will command a lot of money on the market just because of their size, and Mayo could as well being a restricted free agent. We really won’t know what the actual cap number will be until we resign the guys we want, but we’ll be able to make either one big signing, or have a couple role player signings to sure up the bench. Either way though it looks like one of either Fes/Stephenson will see more time next year, and I’m okay with that. Maybe one of them will blow our socks off next year, like the entire team did this year

    Also, I like the idea of Paul George getting a consistent fifteen footer, but if he wants to be really effective he should try to develop a floater (in the fashion of D Rose). His length and tremendous wing span gives him space almost every time he crosses the ball over to his other hand. Being almost 6″10, if he could get a consistent floater he’d be extremely hard to guard. I think his progression next year is going to be a telling sign whether we’re gonna be able to compete. Vogel wants him to have stretches where he dictates the offenses. He’s gonna have to mature more as a basketball player this offseason and command the ball more in order for that to happen.

    As for Jerry Sloan, I looked it up and he actually was born in Illinois, but he went to Evansville (Best College Nickname Purple Aces), so he is an honorary Hoosier. And I think he would make a great addition to the staff as an assistant coach. For all the reasons you said and, the fact that Sloan has tremendous playoff experience as well as Finals experience. Sadly, it’s not going to happen because he’s not going to take any less than a head coaching position, and I don’t blame him. Someone of his pedigree should consider it a slight to have anything less. But he would be perfect.

  • Joe B

    Pritch will be great and has a good relationship with Bird, which means no unexpected moves/ behind the scenes shenanigans.

    The Pacers do need someone who can truly create his own shot and drive to the basket with confidence: this is what the playoffs show us each year. Is that Mayo, Crawford, the development of Hill, someone unexpected? All three lack consistency, but the Pacers are trying to prove they can win with five above average players and no superstar, rather than 1-3 superstars surrounded by below average players. Maybe, just maybe, the bench scoring is upgraded at the guard position and the Pacers acquire a promising back-up center in the draft, making the Pacers clearly the third best team in the East.

  • Joe B

    To add a different ripple to this, though, a previous blog post asks if Lance Stephenson can be the Pacers sixth man. He seems like a mix of JC and Mayo, physically, and he was drafted as a scorer who can create his own shot. Because Bird has said he is “bullish” on Lance and really likes him, does this point to abandoning bench guard scoring pursuits in favor of giving Lance the chance to do, supposedly, what he was drafted to do: score? Last year, Lance was not ready. A summer to grow, full training camp….could be interesting.

  • N

    I think that the pacers should take Draymond Green in the draft if he’s still available. He fills the void at backup SF, is a good defender, and will be ready to play right away. Having that said, I think that the pacers should use Collison as trade bait if they plan on commiting to G. Hill with a new contract. DC still has value and a trade that sends him and Hansborough for a decent SG or big is probably the pacers best bet going forward. I’m a believer that Lance Stephenson can effectively play a bigger role for the Pacers going forward as well. At one time Larry did say that he thought he was the most skilled player on the team.

  • Ian

    I am so tired of hearing how Leonard is a sure star and how the Spurs robbed us in the Hill-Leonard trade.

    Yes, Leonard had an outstanding season with the Spurs. But we was playing on a team with 3 star players and an abundance of depth. He was never asked to do more than his role required. He shot a high percentage on 3s but didn’t shoot very many (and without having seen the games, I’m guessing most of those were corner 3s). He rebounded very well and got steals, but he also played on a very fast paced team that would crush most of their opponents by overwhelming them with wave after wave of depth.

    Asking Leonard to play off the bench with a scoring challenged Pacers second unit would have resulted in far more forced shots and far fewer easy opportunities to shine in low pressure situations. His numbers wouldn’t have come close to what he did in SA.

    Hill had to play point for much of the year (not really his natural game) and take a lot of clutch shots often late in the clock under heavy pressure. He provided steadiness and stability and experience to the team. Yes, its possible that someday Leonard will be a star while its likely Hill will not significantly improve. But the idea that this was some how a slam dunk for the Spurs is a total exaggeration.

  • Realist

    Agree 100%, Ian.

  • gregor t.

    The Hill for Leonard trade worked out good for both teams. That is why the Pacers are coming on strong and the Spurs have four titles. Smart moves that help the team. I dont pull for the Spurs but love what they have done as an Old ABA team. If the Pacers stay on track, there time will come. Anybody liking what Royce White, 6’8 270 with an endorsement from the the Mayor, could bring to the Pacers bench? He could at least body up to Lebron. Just spitballin’ picks at 26.

  • dwain

    White would be an awesome addition to the team.Hard worker with great skillz, he would put his head down and keep working to get better. i still say Nash is the answer here, for a couple of years, and i really think with improvement and camps Lou and Fez can handle the big situation behind Roy. If they can pull Nash(or an equivalent) maybe trade Jones and DC(give him a chance to start somewhere) for future picks to make room on the bench for White and Nash.
    i got a feelin Larry has the plan though and from the way this season went i am willing to let it unfold….

  • rob

    Guys, Mayo and Crawford both stink. Like Russell Westbrook and Kobe, they score because they shoot a lot. If Morway prevented the Pacers from acquiring those two, HE should be executive of the year. Leonard is great and will get better as players improve until they are 25. None the less, George Hill is a good player and a good fit with the Pacers. If you want a good NBA team you keep good young players (Hill, George) and you don’t kid yourself about “developing” players after the age of 27 or so. They are not going to improve.

    That being said, Pritchard seems like a good basketball guy and LB should have who he wants as his business guy.

  • Realist

    Mayo doesn’t stink as your 7th or 8th guy.

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