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Bird: 'We're in pretty good shape, now we just have to finish the job'

Indiana Pacers president, Larry Bird met with the media this morning to discuss his official return to the team and his offseason plans. Naming a head coach appears to be the top priority, so Bird answered plenty of questions on that topic but eventually revealed that he's in no rush to name a coach. In fact, Bird mentioned that preparing for the draft is the team's top priority right now.

Bird did indicate that Frank Vogel remains the leading candidate and spoke highly of the job he did while revealing areas he needs to clean up. Those areas appear to be in toughening up practices and tightening up the locker room, but the way he phrased it, saying that he's spoken to Vogel about areas he needs to clean up, seems to indicate Vogel will get that chance to clean things up. Bird plans to speak with other coaching candidates, though so one may jump out of those discussions as a better fit.

After the jump, more notes from Bird's comments today.

Here are some notes paraphrasing Larry Bird's comments, not direct quotes:

  • Any doubt he'd be back: Main thing was to see what Herb Simon thought about the team. Gave him a few questions and let him know what we were thinking for free agency, so I wanted to know what he thought about the plans and direction of the team. He's all in to get the best team we possibly can.
  • Both (Bird and Simon) are happy with the progress, heading in the right direction. My goal now is to take team to another level, bring excitement and best team possible.
  • There are things I talked to Frank about that I think we need to clean up. I saw progress with our team and the way they finished in the playoffs. All you can ask is to have your team compete at the highest level they possibly can, then if they lose you can live with it.
  • Been in contact with some guys (coaches) to see if they have any real interest in the job. I've been in contact with Frank, lot of people think maybe Frank will get the job, but it is a process.
  • Frank is a front runner for the job. I haven't interviewed other guys but we'll bring him back in at the end.
  • If you see a coach out there you really like and think he can get more out of our players then you have to go get him.
  • We're in pretty good shape, now we just have to finish the job.
  • Mike Brown: I have a lot of guys in mind, but I like Mike, thought he did an excellent job when he was here and in Cleveland, but there are other guys in mind.
  • Coach: Have to find the best fit for your team. Lot of guys impress, are students of the game. None of the young assistants don't have the experience Frank has, because he was put in a tough position.
  • Thought we had excellent practices last year, developed young guys. Communication at the end of the year was good.
  • When I took this job, I said this was my biggest challenge. But there's been no succes here. When you win 37 games, that's not success. Lost in the first round of the playoffs, that's not success. So we're in good position to improve.
  • James (Posey) and Brandon (Rush) coming off cap next year, so that's another $10 million.
  • On free agents: If you have an support and the type of players that play together and you have a good locker room, there's a lot of players that would like this situation.
  • Draft is main priority, but if we can get it done (hire coach) sooner rather than later, that would be good for us.
  • What about workouts? I can run a workout, not hard to tell a guy to run and run hard. Not sure if he'd have current coaches run workouts, would rather not.
  • Talked about practicing hard and having a tight locker room when asked about what Vogel needs to clean up.
  • I know guys I want to get. I want to have the best bench in the league, so if in the draft we don't feel we can get a starter, we'll get the player that is most ready to come in and play right away.
  • On basketball side, everybody we have is up. Did that for a reason, coaches, trainers, scouts. Would I like to sign all of them? Yes. But we have to make sure they want to come back and work things out.
  • I want Rick (Carlisle) to do well. Dirk (Nowitzki) is very valuable, brings so much to that team it's why they're in the position they are in. Bird said he's rooting for Mavs since the Pacers and Celtics are out.
  • Been talking to a few teams. There's been more activity before the draft than usual. July the first is when all of the guys come off our cap but that's supposedly the first day of the lockout.
  • I don't think this is a very strong draft. There will be a lot of kids who do well in the league but a lot of kids didn't come out. I said, I like Ty Zeller but he didn't come out. Damn.
  • Rick Adelman, could be one of the coaches he calls. Spoke highly of Adelman, knows he's a candidate for the Lakers.
  • Unfortunately my feed cut out before Bird completed his requisite dig at Mike Wells.