Simon: 'We're very excited and looking forward to improving again next year'

Apr 6, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers general manager David Morway (front row left) , team owner Herb Simon (front row right) forward Jeff Foster (back row left) and team president Larry Bird (back row right) watch the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Oklahoma City 103-98. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon is finally feeling a lot better about his team and the future of the franchise after a strong season that saw the Pacers take another big step in the playoffs which drew the attention and admiration of the local fan base. Mike Wells reports on Simon's state of mind following the season as he starts to look ahead.

"There's no question in my mind that we're all pleased with the progress we've made, and of course, we would have all wished that we would have gone further," Simon said in a phone interview.

The Pacers continued their trend in recent years of finishing near the bottom of the league in attendance during the regular season -- 29th out of 30 teams -- but Simon is encouraged that will change since all six of their home playoff games were sold out.

"Those games reminded me of years ago," he said. "I was very thrilled. We've gotten the franchise back with our fans. We're very excited and looking forward to improving again next year."

One thing that hasn't changed is Simon's post-season dance with president Larry Bird to determine the future leadership of the basketball side of the franchise. Simon has been unwilling to spend past the cap as the Bird improved the team's roster and salary cap. With new rules in place for exceeding the cap, no owner will want to go way over the cap, let alone Simon. But as long as he's willing to make sure money isn't any issue if the opportunity to make a big move comes along, maybe Bird will stay after all.

I'm still assuming Bird will step away once the dust settles on the end of the season, but I had those thoughts last year at this time, as well. There was mention of Bird being retained in some capacity which would be great if they plan to keep the basic infrastructure of the basketball ops side in place. If not, the new leader of the team shouldn't need another boss.

So what did you take from Simon's comments on Bird and the team going forward? As always stay tuned.

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