Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird today reiterated a stance he took early in the season, telling reporters, including Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star, that he wants soon-to-be free agent Lance Stephenson back in a Pacers uniform (Twitter link). A report late last week indicated that some within the Pacers had begun to question whether re-signing the mercurial guard was the right idea.
“When it comes down to it, it’s up to him whether he wants to be here or not. … I always want him back,” Bird said, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes (Twitter link).
There’s much more from the team’s exit interviews today, much of it coming from Bird, via Buckner, who live-tweeted his remarks. Here are the highlights:
- Coach Frank Vogel also offered his support for re-signing Stephenson, as Buckner passes along via Twitter.
- Bird confirmed that Vogel will return and that his job was never in jeopardy, pinning rumors to the contrary on far-flung reporters, Buckner tweets.
- There appears to be less certainty about the future of George Hill, in spite of three more seasons on his contract, Bird indicated. “Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about our point guard situation,” Bird said, according to Buckner (Twitter link). “I like George. But you never know what’s going to happen this summer.”
- Bird also cast an eye toward Rajon Rondo, as Buckner notes in a pair of tweets. “He’s a very good player,” Bird said of Rondo, who’ll be a free agent next summer. “Been great for a long time. It’s always good to daydream and wish for these guys, but everything we do has to be through trades.”
- The Pacers have only one pick, at No. 57, in this month’s draft, but Bird suggested there’s a decent chance the team will move up, either into the first round or the early part of the second, according to Buckner (Twitter links).
- Bird also offered support for Evan Turner, Indiana’s major trade deadline acquisition and another soon-to-be free agent, saying that he loves the swingman’s game and predicting that he’ll average 17 points per game wherever he ends up, Buckner tweets.
- Ex-Pacer Danny Granger helped in the locker room, but he “was never this leader that everybody thought he was,” Bird said, according to Buckner (on Twitter).
- Bird refused to say whether anyone on the roster was an untouchable, and hedged about the idea of altering the team’s core, as Buckner passes along (Twitter links). “They’re young, I don’t want to make major changes … but we’re open, we’re going to listen and we’re going to see what’s out there,” Bird said.