The Pacers' acqusition of Luis Scola from the Suns today involved them sending out Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and a lottery-protected 2014 first-round pick. That first-round pick is lottery-protected through 2019, and would become unprotected in 2020, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Of course, the Pacers seem like shoo-ins for the playoffs, so the Suns will likely get the pick in 2014.
The Suns and Pacers had been discussing the Luis Scola trade for weeks, but when Indiana threw Miles Plumlee into the deal, the two sides quickly reached an agreement, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said the team doesn't plan another major move anytime soon, but said "we are always open for business" when addressing reporters today, including Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star:
"(Team president) Larry (Bird) has long admired Scola’s ability to rebound and score the ball," Pritchard also said. "We watched him last year with Phoenix. We always felt he would be a perfect person for us in terms of backing up (David) West and backing up (Roy) Hibbert, being part of our second unit and being a scorer on that unit."
Larry Bird, especially, has coveted Luis Scola for years, notes Mark Montieth of Pacers.com, and the opportunity to add his skills as a sub for front-court starters Roy Hibbert and David West, proved too juicy to pass up, despite losing a likely late first-round pick next year.
Here's what else is happening around an increasingly top-heavy Eastern Conference, including more from the Pacers…
- NBC 6 anchor Adam Kuperstein and Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel discussed the upgrades the Pacers have made to their bench this offseason (Twitter link): Chris Copeland and Scola in place of Tyler Hansbrough and Sam Young, while C.J. Watson replaced D.J. Augustin as the backup for George Hill at the point.
- Winderman details the familiar opponents the Heat will likely face this coming season in the Eastern Conference playoffs, with the Pacers, Knicks and Bulls leading the charge to unseat the Eastern Conference champions over the last three seasons.
- The Knicks and Gustavo Ayon have not engaged in discussions, tweets Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com. Ayon is still on waivers after the Bucks released him Thursday. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors examined teams who could claim the big man before he hits free agency.
- J.R. Smith has already received $8.974MM of his $17,947,125 deal with the Knicks, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Mark Deeks of ShamSports reported this week that Smith would receive half of this year's salary by November 15th, but it appears the Knicks have already given him all of his salary for 2013/14 and part of his 2014/15 pay.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer answers questions in her mailbag including whether the Cavs' 33rd pick in this year's draft, Carrick Felix, has enough abilities to secure a roster spot.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
3:57pm: The Pacers have confirmed Bird's return in a press release, announcing that he has agreed to a new multiyear deal.
"We are all very happy to have Larry back," Simon said in a statement. "When he left last July, Donnie and I both told him the door would be open for him to come back when he’s ready. Larry had a huge impact on this team and where it is now so it’s fitting that he comes back at this time. Donnie has been a friend and a valuable contributor to the franchise and will continue to be both. I wanted him to agree to stay in some capacity as I believe with Larry and Kevin, it gives us three of the best basketball minds in the business."
3:17pm: After a year away from the team, Larry Bird is returning to Indiana to reclaim the position of president of basketball operations, reports Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. The Pacers will officially announce the move at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00am central time.
For the 2012/13 season, Donnie Walsh acted as the president of basketball ops for the Pacers, but indicated he'd be ready to step aside if Bird decided to return. Bird, who took the year off to deal with physical issues and to clear his mind, is prepared to resume his duties in Indiana starting on Monday.
"He’s got plenty of rings of his own, now I want him to win one for me," said Pacers owner Herb Simon. "He’s got his energy back, his health back and he’s raring to go."
According to Kravitz, GM Kevin Pritchard will remain in his current position, acting as Bird's No. 2. Walsh will step down as president of basketball ops, but will act as a consultant for the franchise.
As our American readers prepare for a long weekend, let's check in on a few odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Since taking over as the Sixers' head of basketball operations, Sam Hinkie has focused on structuring the front office rather than the team's coaching search, which is moving slowly, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
- One candidate who has been linked to the Sixers is Brian Shaw, but Shaw's agent, Jerome Stanley, tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that his client hasn't spoken to any teams about head coaching jobs yet. Several teams have asked for permission to talk to Shaw, but he and the Pacers have decided to deny those requests as long as the team's postseason run continues. Says Stanley: "Any interviews will be conducted when the season is over, if there is still availability" (all Twitter links).
- Former Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo tells the Associated Press (link via Star-Ledger) that he's not sure winning a title is a realistic expectation for Brookyln, based on the current roster.
- Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star takes an in-depth look at Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, who is rumored to be receiving some interest from the Raptors.
- Former Pistons second-rounder Terrico White will return stateside in hopes of earning an NBA contract this summer after spending the season in Serbia, writes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
12:14pm: Raptors officials are meeting with Ujiri in Colorado today, according to Wojnarowski, who says (via Twitter) things are "moving fast" now.
11:22am: The Nuggets have granted the Raptors permission to speak to NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, and a meeting between Ujiri and the Raptors is expected to take place within the next 24 hours, reports Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports. Ujiri is reportedly the preferred candidate for Toronto as the team searches for a head of basketball operations.
According to Wojnarowski, the Raptors intend to make Ujiri an offer that would pay him nearly $3MM annually. Ujiri, whose contract expires next month, is prepared to leave Denver for the chance to run the Raptors unless the Nuggets respond with a competitive offer. As Wojnarowski notes, the Nuggets have historically been reluctant to pay big money to general managers, so there's a belief they won't match the commitment the Raptors are prepared to make to Ujiri.
If Ujiri and the Raptors don't reach an agreement, Toronto's next target may be Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, who was previously cited as a candidate by the Toronto Star's Doug Smith. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the Raptors have requested permission to speak to Pritchard, though the Pacers prefer to wait until the playoffs to allow a meeting.
According to Berger, Tim Leiweke and the Raptors are intrigued by the possibility of pairing Pritchard with Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver. However, the Thunder may not allow Weaver to interview for what would be a lateral move, and it still appears Ujiri is the Raptors' first priority anyway.
Former Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo remains in the organization as team president, but won't be as involved in basketball decisions. Whoever the Raptors hire as their new GM will have full control over the club's basketball operations.
The future of Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo will finally be decided, one way or the other, by the end of Toronto's long weekend, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Smith reports that the Raptors have until Monday to officially exercise or decline Colangelo's option for the 2013/14 season.
According to Smith, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and new president/CEO Tim Leiweke have hired a head-hunting firm to whittle down the list of possible replacements for Colangelo. Two names being mentioned as potential candidates at Chicago's draft combine this week are current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard and Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver.
Smith notes that neither Pritchard and Weaver qualify as the sort of big-name, high-profile executive Leiweke was expected to target, given the Phil Jackson rumors. However, it's possible, according to Smith, that Leiweke is simply doing due diligence, and will ultimately stick with Colangelo and the current basketball operations staff for another year.
Head coach Dwane Casey's future also figures to be tied to the Colangelo decision. Casey has one year remaining on his contract, and Colangelo has indicated that if he's back, Casey will be too. A new head of basketball operations may decide to bring in his own coach.
Throughout this offseason we've seen dozens of players change teams, but just as important for several franchises was the movement by a few decision makers at the top. Hoopsworld.com's Derek Page took a look at several general managers who were either promoted by other teams or simply decided a new city might be a better fit. Here's a rundown of a few.
Neil Olshey: The former Clippers GM who now finds himself in Portland, Olshey goes from a team in contention for an immediate championship to one that appears to be rebuilding from the bottom up. Olshey's decision to change teams was impacted by the Clippers decision to pay him less than a competitive wage, but it's still a tough move to rationalize when looking at it strictly through a basketball lens.
Rob Hennigan: When you're young and an assistant general manager for a successful team, as Hennigan was for the Thunder, other franchises who're in desperate situations might find you attractive. That's exactly what happened with the Magic and Hennigan, who goes from one of the most promising situations to a long-term project.
Kevin Pritchard: With previous experience as the general manager of Portland, Pritchard heads into this new role alongside former Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh as the two prepare to take a young, small market team and make it a permanent contender.
The Pacers have made their front office changes official, announcing at a press conference this morning that Larry Bird will step down as president of basketball operations. Donnie Walsh will take over for Bird as the team's president, while Kevin Pritchard will replace David Morway and become the team's new general manager, tweets Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.
Wells reported yesterday that Bird would be leaving the Pacers, at least in part due to health issues. The team also announced Morway's resignation in a press release. The duo had plenty of success in the Pacers' front office, with Bird winning the league's Executive of the Year award last month, and Morway having drawn interest this offseason from a number of teams searching for a new GM, including the Trail Blazers, Magic, and Clippers. The team's new pair, Walsh and Pritchard, will work together, but Walsh will have the final say on basketball decisions, says Wells (via Twitter).
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported that the Pacers intended to promote Pritchard to GM.
3:13pm: GM David Morway has resigned, the Pacers announced today in a press release, confirming Wells' report below that suggested Morway was no longer employed by the team.
"While I deeply care about this franchise, sometimes change is important for everyone concerned," Morway said in a statement. "For the past year I have carefully and thoughtfully considered my personal, family and professional goals. After discussing all of these issues with our owner, Herb Simon, and Larry [Bird], I believe this is the right time to step away."
In a pair of tweets, Wells suggests that Morway hadn't been around the franchise or been involved in the team's decision-making process for some time.
8:40am: Just a few weeks removed from winning the NBA's Executive of the Year award, Larry Bird will step down from his role as Pacers president, reports Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. Bird is "100% sure" he won't return to the Pacers for next season, and will meet with team owner Herb Simon today to finalize his departure. According to Wells, Bird is dealing with some health issues, and will take at least a year off before deciding whether to return to a front-office position.
The move is the latest in an offseason shakeup for Indiana's front office. The team recently brought Donnie Walsh on board, and it appears now that he'll be Bird's replacement as club president, though that's yet to be made official. Kevin Pritchard has also taken on an expanded role, while former GM David Morway is no longer employed by the Pacers, according to Wells.
Bird had served as the Pacers' president of basketball operations since 2003.
Earlier today we learned that Pacers president Larry Bird will meet with team owner Herb Simon next week, likely to finalize a deal that will keep the Executive of the Year in Indiana, setting up Kevin Pritchard's promotion to general manager and current GM David Morway's exit from the team. Since Pritchard and Morway have both been in the discussion for the Magic's GM opening, today's news has had an effect on more than one front office.
- Not surprisingly, Pritchard has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Magic job following the news of his pending promotion, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
- The Magic's GM finalists could meet early next week with the DeVos family, which owns the team, says Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, noting that no hire will be made this weekend (Twitter link). The last we heard, from Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, was that Spurs executive Dennis Lindsey is the frontrunner, with former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Thunder exec Troy Weaver and former Blazers salary cap expert Tom Penn in the running.
- The same report from Kyler indicated that Penn has an interview for the Magic GM position this week, but Penn and Pritchard are friends who worked well together in Portland, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted earlier. If Morway leaves the Pacers, as expected, that would create an opening that Penn could fill.
- The Clippers' search for a GM "hasn't gotten serious yet," according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
6:33pm: Larry Bird and Pacers owner Herb Simon are expected to meet next week, tweets Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. Bird must finalize a deal to stay with Indiana for Pritchard's promotion to become official.
4:57pm: When Larry Bird finalizes a new deal to remain president of the Pacers, he plans to promote Kevin Pritchard to general manager, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to Wojnarowski, Pritchard's promotion will spell the end of David Morway's successful tenure as Pacers GM.
Pritchard had been a candidate for the GM job in Orlando, where he reportedly might have teamed up with Tom Penn, a salary cap expert with whom Pritchard worked in Portland. Pritchard joined the Blazers as player personnel director in 2004/05 and held the GM job from 2007-10, compiling a mixed resume that included the drafting of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Brandon Roy. His most prominent move was probably his worst, drafting Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant with the No. 1 overall selection in 2007. Pritchard was fired just before the draft in 2010, and became Indiana's player personnel director last summer. The Pacers brought Pritchard aboard despite the skepticism of Morway and owner Herb Simon, Wojnarowski writes, but Bird's trust in Pritchard, a former teammate from their playing days, won out.
Morway's name has come up often in connection with teams looking for general managers this spring. He interviewed for the Blazers job before it went to Neil Olshey, and is a candidate for the position in Orlando. His exit from Indiana comes as a surprise to many league executives who credit Morway with the recent success the Pacers have had, Wojnarowski writes.
It also ends speculation that Bird, who won Executive of the Year this season, would leave the Pacers, and probably extinguishes any chance of Donnie Walsh returning to an NBA front office this year. Walsh had been linked to the Magic job, but he seemed more interested in an opening with the Pacers.