The Pacers are letting go of coach Frank Vogel, as president of basketball operations Larry Bird revealed in a press conference streamed via the team’s website. Vogel’s contract had already expired, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported and as Bird confirmed, saying he wouldn’t give him a new deal.
“I’ve decided that it’s time for a new voice around here,” Bird said, as the team’s Twitter account relays (Twitter link). “… This is one of the toughest things I’ve done.”
Bird said he won’t replace Vogel with Kevin McHale, his former teammate and the subject of much speculation as a candidate for the Pacers coaching job. McHale earlier withdrew from the running as a candidate for the Kings job, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported.
“I would not do that to Kevin, to have him work for me,” Bird said, as TNT’s David Aldridge relays via Twitter. “That’s not fair. I respect him too much.”
Bird reiterated that he wants more scoring and that his expectations for the Pacers this season were higher than most, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix notes (Twitter link). It appeared a philosophical difference had emerged earlier this season when Bird spoke of his desire for more of an up-tempo attack and Vogel’s fondness for a traditional lineup with two big men. Bird said today that he started thinking about making a coaching change around the All-Star break but felt Vogel deserved a chance to finish the season, Aldridge tweets. Vogel tried to talk Bird out of parting ways with him this morning, Bird said, as Mannix relays (Twitter link), though Bird added that he didn’t meet with Vogel face-to-face, only speaking to him on the phone.
“We’re Hoosiers, we treat people — other than today, we usually treat people pretty good,” Bird said, as Aldridge relays (on Twitter).
Vogel would get a positive recommendation from Bird, the executive said, indicating that he simply believes coaches have a limited shelf life with any team, as Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star and Mannix note (Twitter links). However, Bird said he doesn’t believe Vogel lost the locker room, Mannix adds.
The Pacers went 250-181 in parts of six seasons under Vogel, who inherited the head coaching job, his first in the NBA, when the Pacers fired Jim O’Brien in January 2011. That record doesn’t include Vogel’s 31-30 postseason mark. Indiana made back-to-back conference finals under Vogel’s watch in 2013 and 2014. The Rockets have reportedly wanted to interview him, just as they did before they hired McHale in 2011, and opportunities are available on the Knicks and Kings, too.