Just wanted to expound on the last item in the Pacers Notebook link today, which had Larry Bird confirming that Jim O'Brien will return next year to coach the Pacers.
Personally, I think this decision is a no-brainer considering where the Pacers are in their rebuilding effort. The team plays hard, practices hard and is a close unit of which Jim O'Brien is a part.
JOB publicly offers the gruff exterior of a demanding coach. The type of coach you'd think would eventually wear his players out and soon have them tuning out him and his demands.
But every once in awhile he'll crack and let a little personality sneak out. With the way the players resond to JOB, there's no doubt that personality is fully exposed behind closed doors. I've said before that JOB could take five guys from the Baxter Y and coach them up with no intention of losing. He loves to teach the game and prepare his players to be at their best.
On some level, JOB's been piecing together his team all year. With Mike Dunleavy's extended injury problems, the roster the Pacers were planning to go into the season with has hardly played together all year. Remember, during the 18-game stretch in which Dunleavy was available to play, Marquis Daniels missed several games and T.J. Ford also had some time off. The full roster was available for eight games, and only six of those actually featured regular minutes for Daniels.
As a group, this current Pacers team has improved throughout the year regardless of the W's and L's. The defense has shown signs of improvement since the first of the year and more players are producing offensively when the opportunity arises. There are also small areas of improvement that are hard to measure. The jump turnovers by Jarrett Jack and T.J. Ford haven't been completely eradicated but the frequency is definitely down from the start of the year.
Next season there will be new faces to incorporate thanks to the expiring contracts and limited salary cap room. With a second straight summer of major roster changes, keeping a familiar coach and system in place as a foundation to build a team and develop players makes sense.