You're screwin' with us, right Mike?
Less than 24 hours after the Indiana Pacers were sent quietly into the offseason by the Chicago Bulls, Mike Wells shared some news about the first major question facing the Pacers this offseason, that being the status of Larry Bird as president of basketball operations.
Bird and owner Herb Simon are expected to meet in the coming days. Bird, along with the rest of the staff, is the last yr of their contracts.
Bird is expected to work through the draft even if he doesn't decide to return next season.
Tell me this isn't the plan. Tell me when Bird and Frank Vogel debrief the season tomorrow that Bird will present the public with a more stable outlook on the future than, check back in a couple of months.
I've mentioned often this season that I thought Bird would step away from the Fieldhouse this summer whether the Pacers made the playoffs or not. But with the way the season ended and the solid playoff showing, I imagine Herb Simon will leave the decision to return up to Bird, which in turn impacts Frank Vogel and the coaching situation and then the draft and potential trades around the draft.
There are three general options for how the front office and coaching situations will be resolved this summer, but holding off on those major decisions until after the draft would be the worst option available and only viable with one of the options.
Option 1: Front office returns intact
This is the only option that justifies having Bird hang around until the draft without a firm decision in place. David Morway would return as GM along with the scouting staff to keep working as they have been.
If this is the case, though, why would Bird wait to announce a decision. If it takes him two months to weigh his options then he shouldn't return and thus, scrap this option all together.
Did I mention this is a critical offseason for the Pacers? Publicly, not to mention internally, the Pacers needto project a united front with leadership that is all in, ready and willing to max out the opportunity in front of them this summer. I realize the NBA labor situation mucks up the planning process but the team at least needs to project a perception that they are dialed in an ready to pounce when things are settled and then do just that once the new CBA is in place.
Again, if Bird doesn't want' to wade through the labor grief, I get it. Just step aside now and let someone else throw on the hip waders.
Option 2: Bird steps down, but rest of front office remains intact
Larry Bird may step down after working out a deal with Herb Simon to let David Morway take over his lead role and maintain the rest of the organizational structure currently in place on the basketball side of the Fieldhouse.
This options would also keep Frank Vogel in play to remain on as head coach. Morway and Bird have been working closely together for the past three years so they would continue moving in the same general direction which would maintain some stability for the younger players the team is now relying on to carry the franchise forward.
There's no reason for Bird to linger around until the draft with this option. While I'm sure it wouldn't bother Morway, it wouldn't be fair to the new guy in charge, not to be in charge of the key event of the offseason. Again, with the cap space and random veteran players on the roster, the Pacers could be active in dealing with other teams to around the draft.
Option 3: New front office leadership put in place
The Pacers go in a new direction with a new GM to set the direction of the team. A new president or GM may retain some or all of the front office folks in place, including David Morway. Regardless of how the structure of the front office would shake out in this option, it can't happen soon enough.
A new leader wouldn't want Bird hanging around for the draft and if Bird's decision lingers until after the draft and then he leaves the Pacers needing a new leader then we have the worst-case scenario in full effect. A new guy will want to hire his own coach. It could still be Frank Vogel, but a new guy would have to make the decision to keep him. Then there's all of the decision around the draft and in preparation for free agency that need time to work out.
I can't think of a viable GM that would consider taking this job without making the final decision on any draft picks or trades this summer. In fact, the thought is utterly ridiculous.
So the clock is ticking on Bird's decision and the sooner he solidifies his plans the better for the organization. He has earned the right to decide whether he wants to move forward with the Pacers or move on without them. At this point he has to have a good idea of what he plans to do.
The Pacers have to be over-prepared to have an aggressive and productive offseason. To be blunt, there's no time for dickin' around with such a critical decision that is a prerequisite to making all of the other critical decisions to determine the coach and roster heading into next season, regardless of when "next season" might begin.