Larry Bird Rumors
West also cleared up the apparent confusion over when he opted out. On draft night, Bird insisted that he hadn’t yet heard from either Hibbert or West or their representatives, even going so far as to say he expected both to opt in. When some of us in the media persisted asking about West, Bird, who enjoys tweaking us just for fun, said, “Anybody else got any stupid questions??” then pointed to the Indianapolis Star’s Candace Buckner, who last week broke the news that West was opting out. “C’mon, Candace, I know you’ve got some (dumb questions) in you.”
Then there was this: You remember the post-season postmortem when Larry Bird all but begged Roy Hibbert to opt out of the final year of his contract? West was watching. West was listening. And West was seething. He thought it was a low-class move by the organization to, in his words, “throw Roy under the bus.” “That’s one thing where I wish they would have handled better was the situation with Roy,” West said. “I’ll be honest with you, that bothered me a little bit, and I told Roy that. I’m the type of guy who feels like we’re all in this fight together and I’m not designed in that way to put it all on one guy. That did rub me the wrong way. That threw me off. I started reading some of that stuff, I started thinking, ‘Whoaa.’ I just didn’t feel good about that. I told Roy that it bothered me, that he’s still my teammate.
“You know, obviously Roy wants to play, he knows he’s unpopular right now, but we talked and he’s going to be a professional. He’s always been a professional. He’s had his ups and downs but he’s always been a pro and been diligent about his work. He’s working to get better. He’s going to fight. He’s not going to be one of those guys who’s going to become a locker room issue. “But that was not the straw that broke the camel’s back. “I just watched those finals, and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to give myself a chance.’ That’s the reason I made this decision.‘’
Recently when asked about the season, Bird, who will just as soon use the term “good little player” to describe a pro, could not bridle his enthusiasm about Stuckey. “I want him back, too. He was great. Great worker. He worked as hard as anybody. He lifted just about every game. Every thing we asked him to do at the beginning of the year, he did it. He was fantastic,” Bird said. “He knows how much I want him, I told him that at the end of the year.”
There’s a report out the West is opting out and that Hibbert is exercising his option to remain with the team for another year at $15.5 million. Despite numerous inquiries, the Pacers insist, at least publicly, that they have not been informed of a decision. “I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Larry Bird, the Pacers President of Basketball Operations, said late Thursday evening. “It’s their decision. It’s their choice what they’re going to do. We expect them both to opt in and go from there.” Expect them to opt in? Bird was asked to clarify that statement. “I don’t know what they’re going to do. … You should call David and Roy.”
Candace Buckner: Another highlight: I asked early in interview whose voice does Bird listen to most during process & he mentioned GM Kevin Pritchard. Later, Bird said he takes the advice of the team’s medical staff above all and explained why. “You find out things and we do MRIs and we do different things and somebody says, ‘How in the heck could they ever pass him?’. Because our medical staff says you shouldn’t take him. A lot of that happens and we’ve done that over the years.”
According to Sloan, his former agent Elfus indicted to the team during the season that he wanted to be traded. Sloan said he learned about the direct request made on his behalf during his exit meeting with Larry Bird, the team’s President of Basketball Operations. Bird understood Sloan’s frustration with minutes and while Sloan admitted he did want to play more, he explained to Bird that he did not request a move. “I talked to Larry and told him I loved being in Indiana, so we’ll see what happens this free agency,” Sloan said. “They know I’m not a problem, we’ve never had any type of conflict or anything, (I’m a) good locker guy, so I don’t think they’re worried about that.”
“We have seen him play a number of times; we followed his career,’’ Bird said. “He’s a hell of a player. He’s come a long way in two years. I’m pretty proud of him for the work he has put it. It looks like the type of kid who is going to keep working and get better.’’ Asked to expound on Kaminsky’s game, Bird said, “He has a good, all-around game. He doesn’t play at a fast pace, but he can get what he wants to get. “He shoots it good enough to set guys up. And, on the defensive end, he’s long. He’s a presence.’’
Fortunately for Pacers fans, team president Larry Bird wasn’t influenced by the 2010 mock consensus. This was the best call of his career as a team president. None of the other players projected for the Pacers that year have had nearly the NBA career George has had, although Hayward, who went a pick ahead of George, has been productive enough for Utah to be awarded a max contract. No wonder NBA decision-makers either ignore the mock drafts or chuckle at them. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to them,” Pacers scouting director Ryan Carr said. “I’m more worried about where we have guys ranked. “I know the guys who run the main ones. They’re good guys and they’re working hard, but they’re doing it for public consumption, not for us. I’ll stick with our internal thinking rather than someone who isn’t in all our meetings and isn’t invested in what we’re trying to do.”
“It’s really funny,” Bird says, “I never even practiced 3-pointers. We might have thrown up only a couple of them. The only time I practiced them was right before the 3-point contest in 1988. Danny [Ainge] would get the rack out and we’d rebound and throw the ball back out and shoot some 3s. But we didn’t fire up 100 3s after every practice.” Despite winning the first three 3-point contests ever, the shot never grew on Bird. “I don’t know why I never liked it,” Bird says, “But I liked it only in certain situations.”
While Russell and Mudiay are clearly the cream of the point guard crop, many NBA officials contend Payne has now surpassed both Grant and Jones. Not only that, there is a distinct possibility Payne could become a Lottery selection. He recently worked out for Indiana, which has the 11th pick, and impressed Larry Bird and Co. “From the feedback I received, he did really well at the Indiana workout,’’ said Travis King, Payne’s agent. “I think he’s in the mix there.’’
Frank Isola: The King of WFAN keeps saying “where was Pat Riley.” Well, Riley attended draft lottery when Miami finished with a franchise worst record. Not sure it’s asking too much for Phil to make a 1/2 mile trip from his apartment to the Hilton. If Larry Bird can fly here Phil can cab it. Pat Riley also scouted players in Chicago while Phil never left his hotel room. I guess this also isn’t a big deal because Phil has 11 rings. When Miami had the NBA’s worst record, Pat Riley came to lottery to represent the Heat. He owned it. Showed leadership.
Larry Bird, the Pacers President of Basketball Operations, plans to represent the franchise on stage at the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery, a team spokesman told VigilantSports.com. The lottery will be held in New York on May 19 to determine the draft’s first 14 picks. Because both the Pacers and Utah Jazz finished with a 38-44 record, a tiebreaker took place on April 17th and the Pacers came out on top.
When asked about Hibbert’s reaction to comments made by Bird and Vogel, Hibbert’s agent, David Falk, replied with an e-mail to The Indianapolis Star: “We will respond at the appropriate time.” Falk suggested his client would take his time to choose to opt-in for the final year of his contract. “We will decide that in late June,” Falk wrote in an e-mail. If Hibbert decides to stick with the Pacers, he will get paid more than $15 million for the 2015-16 season. That number provides plenty of reasons to weather any ignominy as a backup center. However, the Pacers have been turning away from Hibbert for a while now.
Larry Bird on Paul George: “It was a rough go at the beginning, which we knew it was going to be. He (isn’t) going to be Paul George, 100 percent. We know that. But I think mentally he wants to get out there, play a few games and get ready to see what he needs to do this summer to get back to 100 percent — and he will. “I expect him to play this year. I hope he does for his own good — not for us to get in the playoffs or anything like that, but just for his own mental state. I think anytime you go through an injury like that, you have to get back out there and prove yourself. But he’s not going to be 100 percent.”