Ok, not sure this has been posted yet. IF that's the case then I assume it will be locked.
Change in store for Pacers -- on court & in front office
Posted: Friday November 17, 2006 11:21AM; Updated: Friday November 17, 2006 1:19PM
BOSTON -- Jermaine O'Neal came out of the coaches' room Wednesday night wearing a pained, faraway expression as he limped toward the showers. Apparently his postgame meeting with Rick Carlisle, Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird had not gone well. O'Neal's 12 rebounds, five blocks and four assists had been offset by his 3-for-14, eight-point performance and the Pacers' 114-88 loss to the moribund Celtics.
"We may have to shuffle the deck,'' Carlisle said, speculating on more trades after a year of player movement in Indiana. "Maybe these pieces don't fit together. I think they can, but we've got to bring passion, we've got to bring commitment, we've got to bring unselfishness. Otherwise you'll get your *** kicked in this league.''
The Pacers are in all phases of transition. Carlisle was forced to bring in two new assistants while negotiating his contract extension last summer. At the urging of Walsh and Bird, he has been installing an up-tempo offense to suit the open-court abilities of point guard Jamaal Tinsley as well as the eight newcomers on the roster. Heading into Friday's game against visiting New Jersey, the Pacers were in the bottom six in scoring (94.4 points) and shooting (42.4 percent). "Rick's got to find the right combinations,'' Bird said, noting that several Pacers were playing poorly.
Once those problems are solved, the biggest transition of all may be on the way. "I come to the end of my contract this year,'' acknowledged Walsh, the team president and CEO who has been running the Pacers for 21 years. "The owners haven't talked to me, I haven't talked to them. And that isn't a negotiating ploy.''
Bird arrived as president of basketball operations in 2003 to learn from Walsh and eventually take over for him. Would he be ready to handle total control if Walsh leaves after this season?
"Yes, without a doubt,'' Walsh said. "In most of the areas he was ready when he came here. As far as what I would call the logistics of the job, I think the last three years he's been with me he's seen everything he has to see. And anything he doesn't feel comfortable doing, he can hire a guy to do.''
That would represent a change in approach from Walsh's tenure. "But I've got a different background than he does,'' Walsh said. "I'm a lawyer, I was a player, so it was a good combination. So I did it my way. My way was involvement in everything. There are other ways of doing it, where you're sitting on the top and you've got guys doing things for you and bringing things to you, and then you make the decision. When the time comes, he'll make the decision. I think he's perfectly qualified to do that.''
Walsh acknowledged that he was drained by the ordeal of moving Ron Artest last season. Rivals considered his two-month handling of the Artest trade talks a masterpiece of negotiation as he patiently waited as the price went up, enabling him to land former All-Star Peja Stojakovic from Sacramento in the exchange. (When Stojakovic signed with the Hornets last summer, Walsh essentially replaced him by bringing back Al Harrington from Atlanta in what turned out to be another complicated trade.)
"Once I made the decision that we are trading him -- because he stood up and said he wanted to be traded -- I knew that it was probably going to be one of the toughest things I ever did,'' Walsh said of Artest. "Because everybody out there would figure, well, you can get him for nothing. I knew it was going to take a long time. I had to get out there with everybody in the league and just find out who was interested, have patience that as teams' situations changed that they'd look and maybe see the situation for trading for him in a real trade.
"The trading deadline was a real deadline for me because had we gotten past the trading deadline and we didn't play him, then it would have really accentuated everything. So I looked at it like, I have to make this trade before the trade deadline. No matter what I was saying [publicly], that was my feeling.''
Patience is one of the qualities that has separated Walsh from rivals who often don't feel secure enough to wait out the bad times.
"I hear people say that,'' Walsh said. "But when you're on the inside of it, you're just trying to do the right thing. And you know you can't just give this guy away, so you have to ignore what everyone else is saying for a while and just go. And take the time, and if you don't do it be willing to take whatever criticism you're going to get. I figured, I'm the one who traded for him, I got us in it, so I had to get us out of it.
"It was every day, all day,'' Walsh said, referring to the calls he fielded and made in trying to drive up Artest's value. "It really was. And our team wasn't playing well. I didn't like the way our team played nor did I like the way they interacted. That's the first team in a long time that I can say I didn't like it. Which is why we changed it this summer.''
The job isn't over yet. Walsh may not feel comfortable leaving the Pacers until the team is headed in the right direction. He may have to make another trade or two before handing control over to Bird.
"I just want to make sure that this team gets back to where it should be as far as playing,'' he said. "I'm not talking about winning championships yet or not, because we're early in the season. But playing and being the kind of team you can be proud of, that's what I'm looking for.''