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Thread: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

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    Smile AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Fueled by Larry Bird's decision to replace Jim O'Brien with Frank Vogel as head coach, the Pacers have surged into the All-Star break with seven wins in 10 games to climb back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. The franchise's President of Basketball Operations sat down with Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com to discuss the team, its present and future in this exclusive question-and-answer session.

    Q. Understanding how difficult it was for you to make the decision to fire Jim O'Brien, how pleased are you with the results Frank Vogel has been able to generate?

    A. I think Frank’s done an excellent job. It’s always tough for me to get rid of any coach and there’s a number of reasons. One of them is when Jimmy came in here we needed some leadership, some direction, needed to change the culture and he helped us do all that. He played the young guys early on, got them some experience.

    You can sit here and talk about if it’s the right time, the wrong time but, obviously, Frank stepped in and did a good job. In our market, we can’t be in a situation where we fire coaches every time things go bad because we don’t have the money like the other teams do and we’re not going to do that. So every time something goes wrong, we’re not just going to eliminate the coaches because it’s more than just the coach most of the time.

    Q. Why do you think the team has responded so quickly to Vogel?

    A. It’s confidence. At this point in our season, Frank took over at a time when we had some games, no matter who was coaching the team, we had a good chance of winning – and we did. Frank goes about his business sort of the way I did when I was the coach: very positive, always worrying about the players.

    I tried to make it as easy and simple as I possibly could for them. And as he’s doing that, he’s getting the confidence out of our young guys and they’re playing better. You can just see the growth in some of our guys. So Frank’s pushing a lot of the right buttons right now.

    Q. How do you view Vogel as a long-term candidate for the head coaching job?

    A. I told Frank the day I talked to him about the job, "When the season’s over, no matter what happens, you’ll be my first interview." The other day I got the question, "Should we re-sign him right now?" No, we’re not doing that. We’re waiting until after the season to make all the decisions around here. But Frank will be one of the first to be interviewed for the job.

    Q. Has the team's performance in recent weeks and the shift in player rotations had an impact on how aggressively you are approaching next Thursday's trade deadline?

    A. We’re talking with a lot of teams right now but I always said if I can improve this team through a trade I will do that. It’s no different now with some of the players we have under contract and some we have that’s expiring. We’ll look at everything and if I can improve this thing, I will.

    Q. You mentioned at the press conference announcing the coaching change that trade talks had been fairly active, even if no reports or rumors had circulated in the media. Is that still the case?

    A. We talk to a lot of different teams. Today, I think I talked to three. It varies from two to three to five sometimes. But right now, it seems like in this business they wait till the last minute and they try to force your hand to get the players they want out there. I’m pretty reluctant to do that because I don’t want to read about my players in the paper. But if the right deal came up and the right mix of guys, I would make a deal.

    Q. Are there any untouchables on the roster?

    A. I’ve got a lot of guys it would be very hard for me to trade. I can’t see me trading Danny Granger. That doesn’t mean it’ll never happen, I don’t know. But three years ago I brought Danny in and sat him down and told him exactly what I was going to do here. I expect to hold my end of it and I expect him to hold his end of it. For me to go out there and trade him after he’s been such a trooper would be really difficult for me to do.

    Q. Are the veterans with expiring contracts (T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster and Mike Dunleavy) more valuable now as trade chips or at the end of the year when their salaries come off the books?

    A. The way I look at this and the way I set this up three years ago is we’re going to be sitting at around $36 million and we’ve got a lot of good players – I don’t care what anybody says – good, young, talented players that are going to get better. We’ve got our draft picks. And not only next year do we have money but the year after that another $10 million comes up. Some guys say it’s not a good free agent class but there’s a couple guys I’ve got my eye on I think could help us immensely and we’re going to go after them when the time comes.


    Q. Though it's still very early in Vogel's tenure, the team has showed very strong signs in the past three weeks. How much better does this make you feel about the next step?

    A. I feel very good about it. I think this franchise is sitting in a perfect situation to move to the next level. I said that three years ago and I say it today. We’re going to have between nine and 11 young players with a lot of cap room to go out and fill out our roster. Can we do it all in one year? Hey, if there’s guys out there we want, we will. Can it be the next year? Obviously it can, and eventually we’re going to have to start signing our own players if we want to keep them. But we get to look at all of our young players and see their development plus we get to go into free agency, which I have never done since I’ve been here.

    We’ve picked up some players but every year I’ve been here we’ve cut our salaries down. We went from a (luxury) tax-payer with Jermaine (O’Neal) at $76 million, plus the six extra (tax penalty) for $82 million, and without (Jamaal) Tinsley this year we’re under $60 million and next year we’re going to go down to $36 million and the following year we’re going to go back down. So I think the light is at the end of the tunnel. I know a lot of fans are frustrated, they don’t understand all of it like I do but I’m going to do exactly what I said I was going to do and this franchise is sort of like the stock market when it’s at the bottom – it’s going to start going up.

    Q. It's not uncommon for fans to argue the franchise would be better with another lottery pick than to enter the playoffs as a low seed and heavy underdog. Clearly, your goal is making the playoffs this year. Why do you consider that such a priority?

    A. It’s great experience for these young guys. You can’t build by going from a non-playoff team to the NBA Finals. It just doesn’t happen that way. You’ve got to go in and take your licks, you’ve got to go in and try to win games, you’ve got to find out the different atmosphere of these playoff games. It’s different at every level. We’ve got a lot of young guys that haven’t been in the playoffs. I think it’ll be a great experience for them, show them how much more they have to work in the offseason, and it’ll show them what to expect.

    When the season’s over and you don’t have a good year, everybody wants you to be in the lottery. I don’t want to be in the lottery. I would take my pick, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next year, how many players are coming out, but I would be looking around to maybe trade my first-round pick this year and I don’t usually do that.

    Q. As you identify the core of your team moving forward, how many pieces do you think you need? Is it two guys? Is it three?

    A. Well, I’m pretty bullish on Lance Stephenson. If he’s going to be what I think he’s going to be – I already know Paul (George) is going to be there – maybe it’s just two. I think the kid’s got a chance to be very special. And I think Paul’s going to be special. And we’ve got the money to go fill out this team and be very competitive in this league.

    Q. It sounds very much as if you, like the team, have been re-energized.

    A. If we don’t make the playoffs this year, it’s our own fault. We’re playing well, the guys seem happy, they’re giving the effort every night, they want to get there and everything’s driven to get to the eighth or seventh or sixth seed. Our schedule’s favorable. We’ve got some tough games in there but we’ve also got some games we know we can go out and win if we play to our max and I think these kids will do that, based on what I’ve seen in these last few games.

    So it’s up to them. Obviously, injuries play a key role but we’re pretty stacked in every area. I think people are probably surprised by what (Tyler) Hansbrough and (Josh) McRoberts have done to hold down the four position and if they continue to play at that pace and we get the energizing we need off our bench, there’s no reason we can’t make the playoffs and it’s up to our players to do that because we’re sitting in a good position to do it.

    Q. How would reaching the playoffs impact your personal decision at the end of the season when your contract expires?

    A. I don’t know. I just want to do what I said I was going to do. I wanted to rebuild this thing with everything that’s happened and in the third year get in the playoffs and have that group of 10 or 11 guys and have plenty of money for whoever’s here to have the opportunity to take this franchise to the level I think it needs to go. And we’re not that far away.
    http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/bird_qna_110217.html

    I really liked the bolded part. My optimism for Lance has immensely increase over the past couple of days. I cannot wait to see him play. At this point just sit Mike and play Granger/Lance/Rush/Jones/George at the wings in whatever combination.

    A general question: In the interview Bird says that there are guys that will immensely help us in free agency. They seem to be somewhat under the radar. Who are those guys? I hope he is not talking about DeAndre Jordan; He is going to be way overpaid. Ditto for Tyson Chandler even though I do love his game. I'd perhaps like us to go after the likes of Kurt Thomas (Still pretty dang solid, and can be had for cheap), Chuck Hayes for post defense, Marcus Thornton or Jeff Green for uprgrades at positions, and I wouldn't mind if we brought back Earl Watson for tempo and court vision as a backup/third point guard. Maybe Thaddeus Young too because he is an aggressive player off the bench.
    Last edited by O'Braindead; 02-17-2011 at 11:34 AM.
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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    My optimism about Lance has increased too.. Sometimes I get vibes from Bird and co. that he is already ready to contribute. (Insert someone who ridicules Lance at every chance they get to point out that he's 19 years old)

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by BringJackBack View Post
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    My optimism about Lance has increased too.. Sometimes I get vibes from Bird and co. that he is already ready to contribute. DUDE HE WAS BORN READY

    (Insert someone who ridicules Lance at every chance they get to point out that he's 19 years old)
    Which makes no sense because if he is better than other players. Age is just a number but to some people they think it matters.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by O'Braindead View Post
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    A general question: In the interview Bird says that there are guys that will immensely help us in free agency. They seem to be somewhat under the radar. Who are those guys? I hope he is not talking about DeAndre Jordan; He is going to be way overpaid. Ditto for Tyson Chandler even though I do love his game. I'd perhaps like us to go after the likes of Kurt Thomas (Still pretty dang solid, and can be had for cheap), Chuck Hayes for post defense, Marcus Thornton or Jeff Green for uprgrades at positions, and I wouldn't mind if we brought back Earl Watson for tempo and court vision as a backup/third point guard. Maybe Thaddeus Young too because he is an aggressive player off the bench.
    I think David West #1, then Jeff Green is my guess.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Man, I hate to seem negative, but pure talent has a way of mesmerizing GMs and its not nearly the full picture on players, often.

    On a side note: Is Stuckey a good comparison for Lance. Stuckey seemed out of shape and ran out of gas quick, but when he was aggressive, he was just a terror, a bulldog.
    Last edited by Speed; 02-17-2011 at 11:59 AM.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Q. As you identify the core of your team moving forward, how many pieces do you think you need? Is it two guys? Is it three?

    A. Well, I’m pretty bullish on Lance Stephenson. If he’s going to be what I think he’s going to be – I already know Paul (George) is going to be there – maybe it’s just two. I think the kid’s got a chance to be very special. And I think Paul’s going to be special. And we’ve got the money to go fill out this team and be very competitive in this league.
    Is Larry talking "starters", or "rotation" players?

    If it's starters:
    Assume Roy is 1, (by his comments) George is 2 then...
    Who is 3? Danny?
    Does he think Lance is a starter down the road? Is Lance a 1 or 2? Is George a 2 or 3? (If he is talking starters it matters, if he's talking rotation, not as much).
    This would mean is is not sold on DC as a starter (be #3 Danny or Lance), and a need @ PF is the 2nd.

    If he's talking rotation:
    Lets all assume backup C/athletic 4 (preferably a combo-type) is 1, what is the other? Is it SG or PG?

    Key follow up Questions:
    -Where do you see Lance, 1 or 2?
    -Where do you gee Paul, 2 or 3?
    -When you say 2, maybe 3, are you stating starters or rotation guys?
    -Do you thing you can fill any of these at the trade deadline this year?
    -Do you see a player (or 2) that fills your wushes on the FA list for n/y?
    -Do you think you will have to wait a bit longer & trade for these players?
    "Larry Bird: You are Officially On the Clock! (3/24/08)"
    (Watching You Like A Hawk!)

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Get. David. West.
    We need better than solid. No JJ Redicks, Andray Blatche, Mike Dunleavy type guys to have big roles on our team.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    We need a "Ji** in my Pants" smiley for everytime somoene connected to the Pacers makes a positive comment about Lance in the press.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    To me, the key statement was, "I would be looking around to maybe trade my first-round pick this year." This signals (again) an intention to try combine an expiring (and a young asset?) with a pick to acquire a player of significance who is on an "expensive" contract.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    Man, I hate to seem negative, but pure talent has a way of mesmerizing GMs and its not nearly the full picture on players, often.

    On a side note: Is Stuckey a good comparison for Lance. Stuckey seemed out of shape and ran out of gas quick, but when he was aggressive, he was just a terror, a bulldog.
    I was thinking over and over again last night that I wish Lance could've matched up with him. I know Lance's defense is supposed to be bad, but I really doubt Stuckey could have posted Lance up like he did DC.

    I say supposed to be bad because that's what we were told. Personally, I have no idea about his defense. I'm ready to find out, though.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by BPump33 View Post
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    I was thinking over and over again last night that I wish Lance could've matched up with him. I know Lance's defense is supposed to be bad, but I really doubt Stuckey could have posted Lance up like he did DC.

    I say supposed to be bad because that's what we were told. Personally, I have no idea about his defense. I'm ready to find out, though.
    Im not worried about his defense it was solid in Collge. More the shot selection and finding the open man. His shot selection was horrible at Cinnic.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    I'm almost fully convinced he'll do nothing at the deadline.

    Reading this Q & A, just makes me think it even more.

    I can almost guarantee if he does do something, it'll be along the lines of DC for Murphy, again. He values the money coming off the books, and rightfully so.

    Interesting that 10 million coming off the following year, he mentions, with D Jones and Posey. If he's really patient, he will really be in the drivers seat in two years.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    How many caught the part where Bird said he doesn't like trading 1st picks but would this year?

    Bird's FA answer intrigued me about "couple of guys I've got my eye on who could help immensely, and we're going to go after them when the time comes."

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    I think we will go after Deandre Jordan if Foster doesnt come back. We need a rebounding back up center thats what lost us the game last night. Maybe Lou Richard Ma Muta. He can defend all 5 postions and is an elite rebounder.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by BPump33 View Post
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    I was thinking over and over again last night that I wish Lance could've matched up with him. I know Lance's defense is supposed to be bad, but I really doubt Stuckey could have posted Lance up like he did DC.

    I say supposed to be bad because that's what we were told. Personally, I have no idea about his defense. I'm ready to find out, though.
    It's guys like DC that I think might give him trouble most. The upside is he could reciprocate just like Stucky.

    I'm one of the few on here, I think, that want him to play Point Guard.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Tyme View Post
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    How many caught the part where Bird said he doesn't like trading 1st picks but would this year?

    Bird's FA answer intrigued me about "couple of guys I've got my eye on who could help immensely, and we're going to go after them when the time comes."
    This is part of what made me think, he won't trade at the deadline.

    'when the time comes' = Free Agency

    I think.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by DrFife View Post
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    To me, the key statement was, "I would be looking around to maybe trade my first-round pick this year." This signals (again) an intention to try combine an expiring (and a young asset?) with a pick to acquire a player of significance who is on an "expensive" contract.
    That was the big one for me, as well as the "free agents that will help us immensely" comment. Also, didn't he say that he's "got his eyes" on a couple of free agents? Would that indicate that he's planning on staying with the Pacers? Just trying to read between the lines a little.

    But, like I said, his admitted willingness to trade the first round pick is intriguing. As DrFife says here, it tells me there's a good chance of packaging an expiring and the pick with maybe one of our young guys for a real stud.
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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Tyme View Post
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    How many caught the part where Bird said he doesn't like trading 1st picks but would this year?

    Bird's FA answer intrigued me about "couple of guys I've got my eye on who could help immensely, and we're going to go after them when the time comes."
    IMO 2 guys available & fit a "need" & areyoung, big & athletic are:
    -J.Thompson/ Sac
    -A.Randolph/ NYK
    I bet we land 1 of these 2 & that is it (+ Lance).
    "Larry Bird: You are Officially On the Clock! (3/24/08)"
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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    It's guys like DC that I think might give him trouble most. The upside is he could reciprocate just like Stucky.

    I'm one of the few on here, I think, that want him to play Point Guard.
    I honestly have no idea where I want him to play. I liked his summer league at point, but it was just summer league. I watched a few Cincy games last year and he was a one man show that didn't even look to pass. He also was making shots that were pretty incredible. I'm more worried that he's going to be good on the court and a problem off the court. The better he is on the court the more news it will make when/if he gets in trouble.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    The last few days makes me wonder.

    If Lance has superstar upside, then why didn't Obie and now Vogel not played him yet. You play to win. If someone is that good, you play them.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by BPump33 View Post
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    I honestly have no idea where I want him to play. I liked his summer league at point, but it was just summer league. I watched a few Cincy games last year and he was a one man show that didn't even look to pass. He also was making shots that were pretty incredible. I'm more worried that he's going to be good on the court and a problem off the court. The better he is on the court the more news it will make when/if he gets in trouble.
    Ya i would have hated to play with him that year. He actually passed better in HS. He still makes incredible passes when he wants to. But he didnt seem to want 2 at cincy.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by pacer4ever View Post
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    Ya i would have hated to play with him that year. He actually passed better in HS. He still makes incredible passes when he wants to. But he didnt seem to want 2 at cincy.
    I know we had this conversation on the way up to Milwaukee, but I was pretty impressed with his pull up jumper. He has a pretty sweet stroke.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    I am high on Lance.

    But his one lengthy appearance in preseason showed him to be almost completely clueless on defense and not that much better on offense.

    I'm excited that Larry is excited. But I see at least five games of decent minutes before he even begins to be something other than a negative. And with the current playoff push, I can see Vogel being reluctant.

    It may be that we see very little of Lance until the point that we clinch a playoff spot, and that, at the most, would be five or ten games before the season ends.

    The time to introduce Lance to the NBA was earlier this year.
    Last edited by McKeyFan; 02-17-2011 at 12:23 PM.
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    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    The last few days makes me wonder.

    If Lance has superstar upside, then why didn't Obie and now Vogel not played him yet. You play to win. If someone is that good, you play them.

    My feeling is, even though Bird and Vogel say he will play, that Stephenson was never going to play until AFTER his court hearing tomorrow.

    I know there are those that feel that Stephenson will come out of this w/o any problem and that the Pacers know it. If true, why hasn't Stephenson been given PT? My guess is that the Pacers aren't certain how tomorrow will turnout, so they didn't want him playing only to have a PR problem. Better play it safe than be sorry laer if things turn sour in court.

    If things are resolved in Stephenson's favor, I have no doubt those who about to wet their pants in anticipation of seeing Stephenson play will get their opportunity in the next game against the Wizards. You might even get to see him against Stuckey and Gordon the next night.

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    Default Re: AS Break Q&A with Bird (Big read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    It's guys like DC that I think might give him trouble most. The upside is he could reciprocate just like Stucky.

    I'm one of the few on here, I think, that want him to play Point Guard.
    If you mean like the way Dwayne Wade runs the point , I agree
    Sittin on top of the world!

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