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.