Bird anticipates "creative" moves in offseason
Apr 21, 2009
In his just-concluded year-end press briefing, Larry Bird didn't break any major news but the Pacers President made several interesting and perhaps telling points.
Like Coach Jim O'Brien, he believes the key to significant improvement for 2009-10 begins with the defense. But he differs from O'Brien's stance that it's primarily a matter of personnel. Bird said he believes "(the players) have more in them" than was apparent in 2008-09.
One of the keys to internal improvement defensively will rest with Danny Granger, who needs to "take leadership on the defensive end," Bird said. "When he does that, the other players will follow him."
Bird would like to add a post player to strengthen the inside game at both ends of the floor but indicated that need would much more likely be filled with a veteran player through a trade or free agency than in the draft.
The interest in another post player is in no way an indicator of a lack of faith in Roy Hibbert, who started 42 games as a rookie but struggled with foul trouble, but rather reflects a desire to strengthen the overall frontcourt rotation.
Though the Pacers fell short of the playoffs in 2008-09, Bird was pleased that "we've changed the culture" of the team, playing a style that fans enjoy with players that not only avoided off-court trouble but actively reached out to the community.
If not for the injury to Mike Dunleavy, Bird believes the Pacers would've made the playoffs in 2009.
Uncertainty over Dunleavy's return could change the team's plans for free agent Marquis Daniels. It has been generally assumed the Pacers would not pick up the option on Daniels' contract but Bird said he'd consider re-signing Daniels "if we feel Mike won't be back in time."
Bird will make a qualifying offer to and would like to re-sign Jarrett Jack, who he believed made progressive improvement throughout the season to the point he "was one of our best clutch players" in the second half of the season.
Because of the recession and the potential for a dramatic reduction in the salary cap, Bird said the franchise needs to be prepared for a variety of possibilities in the free agent market this summer. "I see a major change in free agency in this league," he said.
Bird believes the Pacers might be able to split the mid-level exception to sign two free agents as well as retain Jack, assuming the price is right. "We've got to be creative with what we do this summer," he said.
The point guard position is in good hands with Jack and T.J. Ford. "They both can get the job done," Bird said.
He has not talked to ownership about a contract extension, saying he'd prefer "a handshake agreement" to continue in his current role.
He has not talked to O'Brien, whose contract also expires after the 2009-10 season, about an extension.
Bird said he will make an effort to re-sign free agent Josh McRoberts "because with his athletic ability, he could be a big plus for us this year."
Though O'Brien also said his wish list includes drafting a bigger, more athletic point guard to develop, Bird said the point guards in this year's draft are generally small. "It's nice to have a wish list," Bird said with a smile. "I'd like to have $30 million to spend."
So, it seems Bird isn't looking PF in the draft and there are no big point guards, by his estimation. I wonder if this just means best available player, which really is what they should do anyway to improve the overall talent period, imo.
I keep thinking a guy like Joe Smith.
The Bulls didn't exactly "pick up" Tyrus Thomas, they drafted him with the second overall pick.
Originally Posted by stevo
Stevo, could you explain why you think the statement was a smoke screen?
But I'm guessing that Joe Smith will have plenty of interest in him.
I agree with stevo that there is some smoke screen going on with Larry Bird and this supposed "handshake deal". If Larry resigns, then I think it puts JOB in a bad situation - players and people around the team wonder why is JOB not being re-upped if LB is. So by saying there is a handshake agreement with the Simons, it keeps from being pressured to resign JOB right now - when it maybe obvious that they really want a new coach after next year and don't want to lose the money on paying JOB when he's not going to be here past next year.
If Bird wants to leave, that's fine. As long as Morway (who I believe is the one that is most active in the front office) stays, then that's all I care about.
I wonder if Bird would stick around without a contract (or rather, without pay) if that would allow the Simons to permit him to spend more money on the roster? After all, Bird does make 7-figure for this, doesn't he? Maybe he gives it up for a little luxury tax wiggle room?
Just speculating, obviously.
I don't think there's much to this. I think Bird may not be entirely convinced that this is going to be his life's work. I could be remembering incorrectly, but didn't Walsh work under a similar "handshake" type of deal?
Whoops, yeah, I meant to say 7-figures.
I think the odds or Marquis being available as an insurance policy for Dunleavy aren't all that much better than the odds of Dunleavy himself being available most of that time. I'd rather just stick with Brandon Rush as the starter and cobble something together rotation-wise with Stephen Graham and Jarret Jack and utilize Diener more (so we don't get an overdose of JJ and TJ together).
...That's assuming we can't pick up a better FA option than Graham or have some kind of drafting or trading luck come our way.
I just don't think I'd count on Marquis...
I'd have to go back and re-watch the whole press conference (the feed got jacked up), but it sounded to me like Bird was "theoretically spending" a lot of money he doesn't have.
Honestly, I still think there is virtually no chance we'll re-sign Daniels.