Reggie Miller played under Larry Bird during part of Miller's 18-year career in Indiana.
Simon has considered this possibility for several years, sources said, and thinks the timing could be right to groom Miller to run his basketball operations. This is likely Millerís one chance to ever run a team. And where else would he rather do it, but in the city, the state, where he became basketball royalty?
Nevertheless, thereís risk for everyone. Miller has a cushy national TV analystís job with TNT, and heíd have to jeopardize his standing as an iconic Indiana figure. Heís the greatest, most beloved player in Pacers history. Heíll take hits upstairs that he never had to take on the court.
Simon has always been most comfortable hiring people he knows and trusts, people that resonate within the Indiana basketball culture. From French Lickís Larry Bird to Indiana Hoosier legend Isiah Thomas, heís never been afraid to take a chance with legendary names for his most important jobs. And the reason Simon could bring Miller, with no executive experience, to the Pacers is the same reason he brought Bird and Thomas to Indianapolis: the chance for Walsh to mentor Miller.
ďHerb really wants that to happen,Ē says a league official with close ties to Miller and Walsh.
If Bird does leave, thereís momentum growing for Walsh to return to the Pacers with Miller. Strong ties still bind Walsh, Simon and Miller. Within weeks of his departure from the New York Knicks, Walsh had been telling confidants he was refreshed and eager to work again. He didnít leave New York because he was tired of the job, but weary of the Garden culture. Heís 70 years old, but Walsh isnít done with the NBA. He doesnít want to leave Indianapolis again, and this could be perfect for him.
After all, Walsh and Miller are still close, and still closely tied in Pacers history. Walsh made the unpopular choice of taking Miller in the 1987 NBA draft, and yet ultimately Miller became the centerpiece for years of Eastern Conference contention. Once Miller retired in 2005, Walsh turned over the Pacers to Bird, and eventually made his move back to his hometown New York Knicks. After four years on the job, Walsh made the Knicks relevant again, but he missed Indianapolis and his life there. His wife and family had stayed back, and Walsh returned for good in June.
Walsh is extremely fond of Miller, and sources say Simon believes Miller could evolve into a good basketball executive. The possibility of teaching him the trade, the craft, and eventually handing the Pacers over to Miller is intriguing to Walsh too, sources said. Miller isnít the only choice, because thereís one more ex-Pacer that the owner and Walsh have a fondness for: Chris Mullin. Walsh wanted to hire Mullin with the Knicks, but ownership wouldnít allow it. Still, Reggie is Reggie in Indiana. Thereís no more magical pro basketball name there.