View Full Version : Pacers owner optimistic about season

09-25-2010, 04:01 PM

per Mike Wells

Herb Simon wouldn't say the Indiana Pacers are a lock to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, but the team's owner is optimistic they're heading in that direction.

"We may surprise some people if we stay healthy," Simon said. "We think we made a good trade (for point guard Darren Collison) that will help us in an area we need help. We like our draft picks.

"I'm excited about the season and ready for it to start."

Simon, who said he has gradually taken a more hands-on role with the club, discussed that and more in a wide-ranging interview last week.

Question: Training camp opens Tuesday. How do you feel about the offseason?

Simon: We like our draft picks (Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle). The fact we're getting (Tyler) Hansbrough back is like we're having two first-round picks this year. There's a lot of enthusiasm among the players already. We think (Roy) Hibbert is going to be even better this year. He's really accepted the challenge. Danny (Granger) got some international experience and he's determined to show everybody. We have a gap with (Troy) Murphy gone, but we have a lot of talent there.

Q: The city was buzzing after the Collison trade, then you had two off-court incidents with Lance Stephenson and Brandon Rush. What were your thoughts?

Simon: We're very disappointed in both of the situations. We spent a lot of time cleaning up the team. Growing up, people have problems and it's unfortunate it happened at the time it happened. (Team president) Larry (Bird) is in full control and taking care of it. We're going to make sure we're going to do the right thing. I just hope that things like that are things of the past.

Q: Larry and GM David Morway took an aggressive approach with Lance by not allowing him to work out at the fieldhouse and making him get counseling. Do you like that approach?

Simon: That's Larry's approach and it shows that he's not going to put up with that type of stuff. There's another side to every story. We have to give the legal system a chance to go through the process. I don't think Lance or Brandon are bad people. They just got into some situations that are very uncomfortable.
Q: What are your thoughts on teams not knowing about a player failing a drug test until it happens for a third time?

Simon: I think that should change in the collective bargaining agreement. I brought that up with the league at our meetings. I think it should be a very important part of the collective bargaining because we can help the player right away. When we finally get to know it under this program, all this time has gone by and we haven't helped anyone. I can't get involved in the negotiations, but if I had anything to say about it, I would like that changed.

Q: Are there any regrets for giving Lance a guaranteed contract?

Simon: No, I don't have any regrets. That contract was based off the potential and upside this young man has. We think he's a real find. We did our investigation. Unfortunately there was another incident that happened that we weren't prepared for. As a player, we're very comfortable with the contract we gave him. I believe Larry will handle the situation properly.

Q: Larry, David and coach Jim O'Brien are in the final years of their contracts. Do you have a number of wins necessary to bring them back?

Simon: I have not thought of anything other than getting through the season. Larry is a very independent guy. He'll sit down with me at the end of the year, and I would love him to be involved in the franchise in some way. He's going to be the one that will give me the direction on where we should go on the basketball side. I have a lot of faith and confidence in him.

If we continue to go in the right direction, I really believe the course Larry has put us on will be a course this city will be very happy with. He always told me it was going to be three years, we're starting the third year. By the end of the year, he'll know what he wants to do. I'm open to any suggestions.

Q: How has your role changed with the team?

Simon: When Donnie (Walsh) was running it, I always said I was a hands-off/hands-on owner. Now I'm a hands-on/hands-on owner. I spend more time strategizing on the basketball side and the non-basketball side. I want to try to give a good product to the city and try to make the team more economically viable to the city. We can do it. We'll continue to work at that.

09-25-2010, 04:28 PM

same thread, on the front page, with the exact same title