Larry Bird made it clear he wasn't firing Frank Vogel.
"Frank's not getting fired," Bird said. "His contract is up and I just not renewing it."
Regardless of semantics, the Pacers are in the market for a new head coach after Bird announced he is not re-signing Vogel after the two discussed the situation earlier in the day.
Bird didn't meet face-to-face with Vogel, instead talking through the situation on the phone on Wednesday night, before finalizing the split on Thursday morning. Bird said Vogel tried to talk him into changing his mind and working out a deal where he (Vogel) could keep his job with the Pacers.
Ultimately, Bird felt the team needed a new voice of leadership. He started considering the change at the All-Star break but never considered making a change, feeling he owed it to Vogel to let him finish the season.
While Bird didn't think Vogel lost the locker room, he did feel players were tuning him out at times, which was evident in the uneven level of play throughout the season.
As for a replacement, Bird said he has a short list and NBA coaching experience is not important. How they motivate, lead, get respect of the players and their game strategy are keys. Doesn't have to be a former player either.
Other points from the press conference:
- Bird shot down the idea that Kevin McHale was a candidate to replace Vogel. "Ain't gonna happen," Bird said about having his former teammate working under him at the Fieldhouse.
- Bird didn't make such claims about other candidates brought up including Nate McMillan and Mark Jackson.
- Bird lavish praise on Vogel throughout the press conference, continued to go back to the need for a new voice.
- Bird indicated that part of the voice losing impact is in motivating players to play at a higher level and holding them accountable. Essentially, Bird is tired of the soft tendencies his team shows at times.
- Bird sounded emotional at times when talking about Vogel. Did say this part of the job sucks. When referring to what would attract a coach to the Pacers, talked about how Hoosiers, other than today, treat people well.
- Hasn't reached out to any coaching candidates and will begin a search in earnest this weekend.