Donnie Walsh

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Matthews, Roster, More

While Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard makes the final call on the team’s personnel moves, a pair of Indiana’s former heads of basketball operations remain very much in the loop, Pritchard tells Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

According to Pritchard, he works with advisors Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird on a “daily basis.” Calling both men “true mentors,” Pritchard notes that Walsh is on the office every day, while Bird gets “very involved” in the summer and fall.

Within his conversation with Aschburner, Pritchard touched on a number of other subjects, discussing the Pacers’ approach to free agency, the excellent job head coach Nate McMillan has done with the club, and Victor Oladipo‘s rehab, among other topics. For Pacers fans, the conversation is worth reading in full, but here are a few highlights from the team’s president of basketball operations:

On the sales pitch that allowed the Pacers to land Wesley Matthews last month:

“He saw opportunity, right? We needed a starting two. And there was continuity with just knowing Nate and how he coaches, his style [Matthews and McMillan were together in Portland for a season and a half]. And from what he’s told us, he saw us, he played against us and he liked the way we play. But it became a recruiting process, for sure. He had a lot of options.”

On what the Pacers have gotten out of 2018’s free agent signees (Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, and Kyle O’Quinn):

“They fit in nicely. They all made it clear that they wanted to come in, play a role and do it as well as they possibly could. Kyle is a great backup center, and we’ve asked him to be the third center. We’ve needed him, because Sabonis is going to be out for a little bit. McDermott, as he gets comfortable here and learns to seek out his offense, the better he’s going to be. And Tyreke, he’s had some ups and downs. But when he plays well, we’re a different team. We need that punch off the bench, and that’s something we focused on when he got him.”

On the impact of having so many free-agents-to-be on the roster:

“It’s good in that guys are pretty motivated. I’ve believed in this team. We’re going to be challenged in the playoffs and it will be fun watching them, but we’ve got to get there first. I don’t want to look too far in the future. We know we’re going to have some tough decisions this summer. But I believe 40% of the league will be free agents, so it’s not only our issue. It’s a league issue and an opportunity.”

On the Pacers’ long-standing aversion to tanking (Indiana hasn’t won fewer than 32 games in a season since 1988/89):

“You’ve got to give [team owner] Herb [Simon] a ton of credit. He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Let’s tank and look to the future in three years.’ We’re not about that. “

Central Notes: Thompson, D-League, Butler

Despite Rich Paul’s proclamation that his client, Tristan Thompson, would not re-sign with the Cavaliers next summer if he were to sign his qualifying offer, worth nearly $6.778MM, Cleveland should not offer the forward a maximum salary deal, opines Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer. Livingston points to the exorbitant luxury tax hit that would go along with such a lucrative contract for Thompson, and notes that prior to the 2014/15 campaign the forward had been considered a disappointment by many. The Plain Dealer scribe also adds that despite the threat by Paul that Thompson would depart, the Cavs would still retain the 24-year-old’s Bird rights, meaning that they could outbid other teams for Thompson’s services next offseason.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will meet with officials from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants next week to discuss terms of the prospective sale of the D-League franchise to Indiana, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets.
  • Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler acknowledges that the chemistry between he and point guard Derrick Rose needs to improve next season, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes. “I think we can,” Butler said during an appearance on “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000, when asked about his chemistry with Rose. “I think we will. And I think we better, because the way I look at it, I don’t think either one of us is going anywhere anytime soon.”
  • Toney Douglas said that the presence of Donnie Walsh as a consultant helped him decide to sign with the Pacers, Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com writes. “I love Donnie,” Douglas said. “Donnie has always been a great guy. I loved him when I was in New York. Him being here was really a great situation. I trust him. He’s not going to lie to you; he’s going to keep it real and tell you what you need to do.” Walsh was president of the Knicks when the team swung a deal with the Lakers to acquire the draft rights to Douglas back in 2009.

Larry Bird Returning To Pacers As President

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.

Odds & Ends: Nets, C’s, Bennett, Pacers, Mavs

There are plenty of names being thrown into the mix for the Nets' head coaching opening and seemingly just as many being taken out of the equation. Sam Amick of USA Today is the latest to chime in on the subject, reporting that Scott Skiles is among Brooklyn's candidates, but that the chatter about a Jerry Sloan/Deron Williams reunion probably shouldn't be taken seriously. Here are a few more Tuesday odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • As he tells Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Celtics president Danny Ainge hasn't sat down with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Doc Rivers yet to talk about their respective futures. "I don’t really pay much attention to what anybody says in the first week after the season," said Ainge, referring to comments made by the Celtics leaders immediately after last week's elimination.
  • Likely lottery pick Anthony Bennett will undergo rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder tomorrow, agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN.com's Chad Ford. Bennett, who will miss about four months, becomes the third top prospect that will miss the summer with an injury, along with Nerlens Noel and Alex Len. However, two GMs who spoke to Ford don't think the procedure will affect Bennett's draft stock.
  • Pacers president Donnie Walsh told Marc Berman of the New York Post that he's unsure whether he'll remain in his current role next season. According to Berman, Walsh still believes there's a chance Larry Bird will unretire and assume his old position for the Pacers.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com examines the ways in which the Mavericks could add a maximum-salary free agent without breaking up their veteran core.
  • With the Thunder and Grizzlies squaring off in the Western Conference Semifinals, Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth wonders if either team will end up regretting its blockbuster trade — James Harden for the Thunder and Rudy Gay for the Grizz.

Eastern Notes: Nene, Sixers, Andersen, Walsh

A pair of Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchups have been locked in, and one is particularly intriguing, as the No. 2 Knicks will take on the No. 7 Celtics. The winner of that series will avoid playing the Heat in round two, but could eventually be the biggest threat to Miami in the East. Here are a few of today's notes out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Ongoing injury woes had Wizards big man Nene considering retirement earlier this season, as he tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post. "Tough enough to think about the end of my career? Yeah, that’s how tough it was," Nene said. "It was so hard to play the way I did it. I thought to end my career because it’s so painful, my body can’t support. I’m glad I finished the season, but the way I suffer, I hope, never again."
  • With coach Doug Collins seemingly on his way out of Philadelphia, Tom Ziller of SBNation.com suggests some potential replacements for the Sixers to consider.
  • Chris Andersen hasn't given much thought yet to whether or not he'll remain with the Heat beyond this season, writes Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post.
  • Donnie Walsh isn't sure if he'll be back as the Pacers president next season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. "I took this job because Larry [Bird] wanted a year off," Walsh said. "If Larry wants to come back, I’m out. I’m leaving. If he doesn’t I don’t know what I’ll do."
  • Rumors are swirling about the futures of Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank in Detroit, but Greg Monroe tells David Mayo of MLive.com that he trusts the Pistons decision-makers.

Central Rumors: Bulls, Walsh, Hammond, Pistons

The Bulls figure to have a tough time repeating their success of the past two seasons with Derrick Rose injured and most of their key reserves playing elsewhere. Still, they have the advantage of playing in the NBA's easiest division, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, who believes they'll be able to tread water and come up with 46 wins, likely enough for a playoff berth. If Rose is back, a higher seed probably won't want to see Chicago in the first round, but until then, here's the latest on a few teams trying to benefit from the Bulls' misfortune.

  • Donnie Walsh is back in familiar surroundings as Pacers president of basketball operations after a stint in the Knicks front office, as Harvey Araton of The New York Times examines in a lengthy feature. Walsh admits his recovery from spinal cord surgery, which forced him to meet with LeBron James unprepared and in a wheelchair, affected the team's pitch for the superstar in 2010, and the 71-year-old doesn't envision himself as a long-term solution for the Pacers.
  • Though he's not expected to give Brandon Jennings a long-term extension this month, Bucks GM John Hammond is confident his backcourt of Jennings and Monta Ellis can work, and sees the Pacers and Jazz as small-market models to follow, as Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe details. "The goal today is not to make trades," Hammond said. "The goal today is to try to find a way to keep some of these young pieces together and build with this young nucleus but continue to keep a fair salary structure that will give us flexibility to change and improve this team."
  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press looks at how the Pistons are moving against the small-ball trend.
  • The Pistons' rotation is starting to take shape, as Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News examines. 
  • A more competitive on-court product this season is critical for the business side of the Pistons, argues Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press.

Pacers Name Walsh President, Pritchard GM

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.

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Larry Bird To Leave Pacers; GM Morway Resigns

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.

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Odds & Ends: Howard, Walsh, Olympics

Cavs assistant general manager David Griffin has pulled his name out of consideration for the Clippers' general manager position, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Griffin spoke with officials from the Clippers organization while in Chicago for pre-draft camp but reportedly doesn't feel like now is the right time to make a career move. The Clippers have only formally interviewed former Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe for the opening after Neil Olshey left Los Angeles to take the same position with the Trail Blazers. Here are a few more stories and headlines from around the league…

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Pacers Intend To Promote Kevin Pritchard To GM

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.

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