Larry Bird was on 1070 The Fan yesterday afternoon and talked candidly about the failure of the 2006 draft and how the Shawne Williams trade developed. Despite his love for Shawne the person, Bird did not expect to pick up his contract option. Shawne wasn't real happy with his role on the team and valued his talent more than Bird and Jim O'Brien.
But is sounds like Shawne's summer preparation, or lack thereof, pushed Bird to move the player before the start of the season.
When we drafted him (Shawne) he worked really hard and was trying to improve. Then it got to the point where Shawne thought he should be playing more minutes and once that gets in the way, there's some bitterness between the coach and the player probably and I thought him and Jimmy got along real well, but I talked to Shawne quite often and he was dissatisfied with the way they were using him and his minutes and I kept telling him, you gotta get better and once you get better the coach will play you.
So you know, with all these conversations I had with him I think Shawne thought he was a lot better than what he really is at this stage. But I was very disappointed this summer that he wasn't here. He was here off and on but really the last month he wasn't here and he picked up weight. He was out of shape when he went into summer league, then when he came back to camp the first two or three days he didn't look real well, he was out of condition. Eventually he got better, but just the time that he was away from the court this summer bothered me the most.
Well, that explains the poor showing Shawne had in the summer league games in Orlando. With the way he finished the season, Shawne went into the summer on the cusp of carving out a big role on the Pacers by improving the consistency of his play. Instead, he plateaued and now we have a better understanding of why. Maybe he wasn't interested in a bigger role with the Pacers and knew if he didn't follow Bird's advice he'd be moved. That certainly makes more sense than Shawne unknowingly wasting away the opportunity to improve over the summer.
Audio link: Larry Bird interview
Also, check out Kevin Lee's report from Pacers practice this afternoon which includes solid audio with Jim O'Brien, Roy Hibbert and Mike Dunleavy. The Pacers didn't actually practice due to a lack of available players. Dunleavy worked out at full speed and hopes to play on Friday. Roy Hibbert gets it, doesn't he? He has no interest in the 17 points and 9 rebounds he put up against Memphis, but instead wants to learn from the three quick fouls he picked up in the first half.