Looming NBA Lockout Already Impacts Pacers

So the Pacers finally get to the point next summer when they have the roster flexibility and cap space to rebuild the roster around the young players and now it looks like we'll have to wait even longer to enjoy the change.

Billy Hunter and the players' union aren't buying David Stern's poverty plea and it looks like both sides are headed for a lockout. Larry Bird said as much yesterday in a radio interview with Mark Montieth which I highly recommend (check the podcasts for the Big Joe Show). Montieth asked some direct questions about bringing back Jim O'Brien and Bird's future past next season.

In discussing JOB's return, Bird said he didn't think it made sense to change coaches heading into a lockout year. The mention of the lockout year was so matter-of-fact I almost missed it. So essentially the Pacers are riding out the storm of both their bad contracts and the NBA's pending labor struggle.

Bird also said Jim O'Brien has done a good job of working the young players and developing their games which he agreed to continue doing. I guess JOB does that in practice because he doesn't always let them play in games, although that could change this year because if things stay as they are heading into the season, JOB will have to give playing time to the young players since there won't be any other options.

Montieth also asked Bird about his own status heading into the final year of his contract. Bird was non-committal on his future plans just saying he wanted to have the team set up to move forward successfully whether he is running the team or not. The way Bird answered didn't sway me from my belief that he will move on after this year. He didn't say, hopefully I'm here but if I'm not..., he just made the point that he's working in the present to put the team in position to succeed in the future.

I think it's quite plausible that Bird will be happy to let another executive finish the rebuilding job, especially if there's a lockout next year. Speaking of which, the Pacers may be smart just to keep all of the cap space from their expiring contracts until after the lockout. If player salaries are reduced from the big numbers paid out this summer, that money will go much further on the other side of the lockout.

After the jump, few more links of interest including Clark Kellogg joining the front office, Jermaine O'Neal discussing past injuries he didn't reveal (AGAIN) and Luther Head getting the shaft in New Orleans. 

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