Anthony Schoettle reports that Pacers Sports and Entertainment President Jim Morris gave a strong vote of confidence to Larry Bird yesterday.
"Larry Bird has everyone’s confidence here," Morris told IBJ. "He’s working as hard as humanly possible. And we know he will do what it takes to get us a championship caliber team."
Morris joined the Pacers a couple of years ago to help re-shape the public image of the team. Now that all of the off-court craziness has subsided the image of the team is a direct reflection of what they do on the court. Being good guys and doing good things in the community are all well and good, but with their stature in the community those things should be expected, not lauded as a metric of success.
Morris did mention the upcoming draft, saying this is going to be one of the best drafts in a long time. This comment sets the expectation that the Pacers should be able to draft a difference maker, which does passively put Bird on the spot.
One thing about Bird's tenure in the front office, I want to mention. We can argue about past moves while Donny Walsh was here and which moves were on Walsh and which were on Bird, but it's my sense that Herb Simon and other top executives essentially cleared the slate for Bird once Walsh left. So it makes sense that they want to give Bird a chance to finish building the team back up since he since the roster hasn't fully overturned yet.
Again, these are just my arm-chair thoughts on the situation. Personally, if Bird doesn't fare well in the draft this summer or make bold use of the expiring contracts, I'd thank him for doing the heavy lifting of making the roster financially flexible and then let someone else re-stock the talent.