The end result was the same but the delivery revealed a difference.
Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird and GM David Morway spoke with the media on Thursday and as is the norm for these types of press events, spoke in generalities avoiding talk of specific free agents or any thoughts on what to expect from the CBA.
But the tone was different than in past years. Bird has been talking about remaining patient for three years while oozing frustration with being hamstrung by a full salary cap that didn't deliver the bang for the buck he'd prefer. The Pacers were always looking to improve and if something came up they'd make a move, but that would rely on other teams since the Pacers weren't able to dictate their moves with no flexibility and too many clunky assets.
Now the roster is in better shape and the salary cap is in fabulous shape providing Bird and Morway plenty of flexibility to continue building a team over the next couple of years that will fascinate far more than frustrate.
So while Bird was once again preaching patience, it was from a position of strength with money in his pocket to spend and assets to utilize when other teams call desperate to make deal or have the Pacers facilitate a multi-team deal.
Bird was in fact, borderline jovial, enjoying a chance to take some extra digs at Mike Wells. Both Bird and Morway were quick to laugh as they danced around direct questions with answers void of substance.
The whole vibe around the franchise is different than just a few short years ago. The only drama the current roster can muster up are some dust ups on Twitter for crying out loud. Hmm, maybe if Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley had Twitter accounts back in the day...oh, nevermind.
As for the actual content of the press conference, there were no definitive statements on the team's intentions, but Bird did say, "Just because you have a lot of cap space doesn't mean you have to go out and spend $21 million." Those are comforting words when this year's free agent class may command more money than expected. Avoiding the urge to overspend just to spend is critical.
David Morway mentioned in the presser and then again on the radio with Dan Dakich and JMV that the team is interested in adding some "maturity" to the roster with a player(s) that have been in the league with winning teams and can bring some veteran leadership to the young players already on the roster.
Now we just have to wait, sticking with the theme of the presser, in the short and long term. For the short term, waiting out the CBA ratification and December 9th deadline to sign free agents. Fortunately, Morway did indicate that there will likely be deals reported prior to December 9th that will just have to wait to be made official.
Following the Pacers the past few years has been long and arduous. The plan was obvious to see in recent years, but waiting in this day and age just didn't feel natural. But now the hardest part of the wait is over, making it easier to be patient as the team makes a concerted effort to develop a strong team worth following for the long term. Now Bird and Morway just have to deliver on the plan that makes them seem so confident.