Pacers president Larry Bird wants owner Herb Simon to plan for his departure after the season and has told several friends in the NBA that he's decided to leave, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.
Bird, 55, had an agreement with Simon to remain team president through the end of the season and decide his future then. The Hall of Famer has been clear in conversations with friends that Simon does not need to wait any longer before formally considering candidates to replace him, one of the sources said.
Bird is said to be "100 percent" certain he's leaving after the most successful season of the Pacers' post-Palace brawl rebuilding, one of the sources said, but has been extremely guarded publicly about his intentions. The Pacers (42-24) have been one of the surprise teams of the lockout-shortened season, securing the No. 3 seed in the East and hosting the Magic in the first round beginning Saturday.
No doubt Bird will avoid confirming such a report so the situation will resolve itself after the season ends, but the timing seems right for Bird who has put in a lot of work to set up the franchise for the next front office leader to carry forward with plenty of talent and cap space to look good for many years to come. Hopefully Herb Simon will consider keeping the infrastructure of the front office that is already in place and working quite well.