It's no surprise when an NBA player in the last year of his contract has a big season, suddenly increasing his value and leverage for his next deal.
But what about a whole organization playing in a contract year?
Essentially, that's what the Pacers will be doing next year, assuming Jim O'Brien and Larry Bird will work through the last year of their respective contracts without a signed extension this summer.
As Bob Kravitz points out today, Bird seems perfecly happy to go into next season with a lame-duck head coach, as well as with his future as team president unclear.
Personally, I have no concerns that JOB will coach any different. He'll still grind away every day for every game as usual. Nor do I think the team will see this as an opening to stray from the team-first agenda. From the front office to the coaching staff to the roster, that team-first agenda carries a lot of weight.
The situation does create a sense of urgency for everyone, though. With no signatures on contract extensions, the writing is on the wall that the team needs to continue to improve. Since the players actually like playing for JOB, this situation should only help with a little additional motivation to do their part. That sense of urgency flowing throughout the organization is a good thing.
My sense is that Larry Bird and Jim O'Brien are on the same page regarding the long term plan for the team and unless the team and more importantly, key players regress in their development, both will continue to see that plan through.