Larry Bird has been telling everyone with a microphone that he'll be back in Indiana next season. But new information (i.e. a nasty rumor) is whispering something different.
According to New York Post and NBA columnist Peter Vecsey, two NBA management sources have confirmed that Bird is set to leave the nest after this season, citing health and lack-of-enjoyment issues. Bird, who signed coach Jim O'Brien to a contract extension this summer, has only one year remaining on his contract as team president of the Indiana Pacers.
Bird and owner Herb Simon have consistently stated during the offseason that Bird would return next season to continue what he's started -- the rebuilding of a fallen franchise in his home state.
Vecsey's column, which only briefly mentions the Bird situation at the beginning of his multiple notes on the league, also cites a source claiming that "our players were sick when they heard about the extension," referring to O'Brien's one-year deal completed just before the training camp began.
Vecsey has obviously had a checkered past with writing and printing rumors that swirl around the NBA. I don't doubt for a second that Bird wonders if he should return or is burned out by the lack of success in recent years...but, does Bird seem like the guy who would consistently, in interview after interview after interview, say that he's staying in Indiana until he gets the job done and then not go through with it? After reading his three books, following his career as a coach and a team president, I'd be hard pressed to find times when Bird consistently and unequivocally says one thing and does another. Obviously, people change their minds. And maybe this is that occasion. But, I'm going to guess that the Indianapolis Star's Mike Wells, and others, will find plenty of sources who dispute Vescey's claims.
But until then, the rumor is that Bird's tenure with the Pacers is on its last leg. Check out the jump for links to last night's Pacers loss to New Orleans and other Pacers related content.
- The IndyStar printed the AP version of last night's game, which highlights Danny Granger returning home in a preseason loss.
- Here is the box score for the game.
- For the Hornets take, here is a link to a story highlighting Peja Stojakovic's brilliant return against his former team.
- Also buried in Vescey's column today is a brief on former Pacers point guard and current free agent Jamaal Tinsley. Vescey says that Tinsley turned down a non-guaranteed, veteran minimum deal with the Heat. Very interesting. Tinsley is already receiving millions of dollars from the Pacers this season. Vescey also pinpoints the Cavs as a team that might take a chance on the troubled veteran.