The Pacers, at 23-22 and eighth in the Eastern Conference, are underachieving, and they suffer from having too many “good players, but not great players,” president of basketball operations Larry Bird said today to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com and Conrad Brunner from 1070 The Fan. Bird planned for the team to play at a fast pace this season but acknowledges his difference in philosophy with coach Frank Vogel, who prefers a lineup with two traditional bigs and has fielded that sort of team for much of the season. The entire interview is worth a read, especially to get an idea of Bird’s affection for Myles Turner‘s game. We’ll pass along a few highlights here.
On the dichotomy between his vision for the team and Vogel’s:
“We’re halfway through the season. My philosophy is, I’ve been watching this a long time. I’d like to play faster. I thought we might be able to do it. My vision was [Paul George] would play more of the four, not all of the time, but play it more. Paul’s a good rebounder. If he played the four he’d be a better rebounder. But I understand. He’s coming off a serious leg injury. He’s going to hit spurts like he’s hit here. It’s tough sitting out a year and coming back. That’s why I wanted him at the four more [laughing], so he wouldn’t have to guard [on the perimeter]. But I understand what Frank’s saying. I understand what he feels comfortable with.”
On the team’s holes:
“It’s according to how you want to play, and I think everyone knows how I want to play. I’d like to have an athletic big and I’d like to have – whether it’s a point guard or a guy who can get us in the offense and play George [Hill] off the ball a little bit or put Monta [Ellis] on the ball – we’ve got good players, we just don’t have the big athletic guys that we like and need. I think we’ll be able to get that. Paul’s getting through this year and Myles is going to be an outstanding player and [Ian] Mahinmi has had his best year. Mahinmi is playing great. [Against the Clippers], coming off an ankle injury and missing a few days, I thought he was excellent. I thought he played hard and aggressive. We have pieces, but we have some holes and we have to fill them.”
On goals for the season:
“We’ve got to find out who we are and what we’re trying to do here. I can say we’ve got to make the playoffs, and everybody says ‘Why would you want to be the seventh or eighth seed?’ I do. I want to be in the playoffs because you build on that. You build on everything every year and it ain’t going to happen overnight. I think we need to be in the playoffs and then we can put the pieces together and fill some holes and go from there.”