Larry Bird officially stepped down as President of Basketball Operations in his press conference earlier today, and Kevin Pritchard was officially promoted to take over Bird’s position.
Here’s what we learned from today’s press conference:
- Larry Bird decided that this season was going to be his final year as president last season. Bird said that he told Pritchard and another front office guy, Peter Dinwiddie, of his plans, but that only about four people were aware.
- Bird said the increased budget that Herb Simon, Pacers owner, put in place for this season almost made him want to come back for another season.
- Bird will remain on as a consultant to the organization, saying that he will help with the scouting department. Pritchard said that he wants Bird in every free agent meeting.
- Pritchard retakes a lead organizational role similar to the his days in Portland that saw him draft and trade well, earning the reputation for “Pritch-slap” deals.
- Paul George’s exit interview with Pritchard included only scenarios that would improve the Pacers. George wants to win. “We are on the same page.”
- Two interesting statements about his philosophy: “You have to be bold in this position.” “I want to be aggressive.”
- Asked if he would like to re-sign Jeff Teague, Pritchard highlighted how strong Teague had been, and said the Pacers are “open to negotiations” and a “fair deal.”
- Pritchard highlighted Lance’s success and quipped,”We all know Lance is crazy.” The Pacers will ask more of him next season when he is fully healthy.
- Asked about the direction for the team moving forward, Pritchard highlighted his desire to find “physical…tougher…and completely high energy” players. Later he mentioned that he wants “a tougher team.”
- The Pacers want to develop and retain players, meaning they will need to be paid.
- Rebuilding is a dirty word in Pritchard’s mind.
- Asked about coaching, Pritchard highlighted Nate’s toughness and spoke highly of him.
Digesting these comments seem to show a front office that will aim to improve the team next year through finding players in free agency and through trades or the draft that are physical, tough, and have high energy. Pritchard did say that he learned how important continuity is from Bird as well.
Teague will be given a “fair” deal but could pass that up to take big money elsewhere. The goal is to assemble a Pacers team that is competitive and centered around Paul George, with Pritchard believing if George ultimately shows a desire to leave he will be forthcoming.