Kevin Pritchard

Central Notes: Love, Bird, Caldwell-Pope

Matchups in the first two rounds have limited Kevin Love‘s role throughout the playoffs thus far but that could change in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tom Withers of the Associated Press writes. Currently the Cavaliers await the winner of the Wizards and Celtics.

After having averaged 19 points per game during the regular season, Love’s average dropped to 12 in the Cavaliers’ four-game sweep of the Raptors. What’s more, the power forward didn’t even play in the fourth quarter in two of those victories.

Some of it’s my fault because we haven’t really featured him a lot because of the matchups we had on other teams,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “He has been great. His whole mindset is winning and that’s what it’s all about in the playoffs.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Although there’s been a transfer of power in the Pacers‘ organizational chart, Larry Bird remains involved in the offseason planning at the behest of newly appointed team president Kevin Pritchard, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes. Bird serves as an executive advisor with the franchise.
  • The Pacers will work out a batch of draft prospects early next week, the team announced on its website, including college stars Jordan Bell and Josh Hart.
  • The Pistons are in a tough spot with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency, Bobby Marks of the Vertical writes. The 24-year-old could sign a lofty offer sheet with another organization, forcing the club to flirt with the luxury tax if they wish to retain him. Choosing not to retain him, however, won’t free up enough cap space for a suitable replacement.

Central Notes: Pritchard, Drummond, Korver, Lue

New Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard promises to bring an aggressive approach to the job, according to Michael Marot of the Associated Press. Pritchard, who took over when Larry Bird officially resigned this week, can now implement the ideas that he used to advocate to his former boss. “I think you have to be bold in this position,” Pritchard said. “I like interchanging pieces, I like moving around in the draft, I want to be aggressive, I want to make deals.” Pritchard will have to deal with the impending free agency of Jeff Teague and possibly C.J. Miles and Lavoy Allen as well. Of course, his biggest decision will be whether to trade All-Star forward Paul George, who can opt out next summer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons center Andre Drummond recently had surgery to fix a deviated septum that caused breathing problems for the past four years, relays Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. “[I’ve] been playing with my right nostril for four years because I ended up [injuring my nose] some more after my second season,” Drummond said. “I never really had a chance to really sit down and do a surgery. Last year, we made the playoffs and the year before that, I went to the Olympics. It was really tough for me to be out for six weeks and not be able to do anything.” The Pistons signed Drummond to a max deal last summer, but have reportedly been gauging his trade value because of concerns over his work ethic.
  • Kyle Korver is delivering in the playoffs the way the Cavaliers hoped when they traded for him in January, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. He scored 14 points in the Game 3 win at Toronto, with most coming as Cleveland pulled away in the second half. “When [Korver] steps on the floor, eyes have to be on him,” said LeBron James. “… Just his ability to be out on the floor just helps us all out offensively because it just creates more space. From the time we got him all the way to now, and as we continue to play throughout the postseason, he’s been huge for our ballclub.”
  • Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com examines the delicate balancing act that Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue must perform as the coach of one of the NBA’s most talented teams.

Pacers Notes: Pritchard, George, McMillan

The Pacers are transitioning from Larry Bird to Kevin Pritchard and the move could signal an active offseason for the team, Mark Montieth of NBA.com writes.

“You have to be bold in this position,” Pritchard said. “But the one thing I’ve learned from Larry is how important continuity is.

“When you say I’ve been a dealmaker, a lot of them have been in the summer, specifically the draft. I don’t mind moving up. Once I see someone in the draft that I think can really help us, I want to be aggressive that way. [Scouting director] Ryan Carr and our scouts do an amazing job identifying talent, and it’s up to me to go get them. I like moving around in the draft. That doesn’t mean it happens every time. But I want to be aggressive.”

Indiana owns the No. 18 and No. 47 overall picks in the upcoming draft and the team could have upwards of $32MM in cap space this summer, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors recently detailed.

Here’s more from Indiana:

  • Owner Herb Simon may be willing to pay luxury tax under the right circumstances, Montieth adds in the same piece. “I don’t like talking about a small market; we are a market,” Pritchard said. “We’re given every opportunity to succeed. Going into the tax will be challenging, but I’ve never heard Herb say, ‘Hey, listen, we can never go into the tax.’ If you’re on a timeline where you’ve got good players and you want to win, you’re on the cusp of moving up, I don’t think there’s a doubt he would take a look at that.”
  • Paul George told Pritchard that he wants to remain with the Pacers, though it must be a winning situation, Monteith relays in the same piece. “The one thing Paul realizes is, the Indiana Pacers drafted him, developed him, gave him an opportunity to succeed. He talked about how much he enjoyed getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. He wants to win. The Pacers want to win. We’re on the same page,” Pritchard said.
  • The Pacers might be better off moving on from Nate McMillan, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe argues. Washburn cites Indiana’s first-round matchup with the Cavs where Tyronn Lue seemingly outcoached McMillan.
  • Bird will stay with the organization as an advisor and the Hall of Famer doesn’t believe his move will have any impact on George’s future with the team, as we passed along earlier today. “Paul is going to do what Paul wants to do.”

Larry Bird Explains Decision To Resign

Larry Bird made the decision to step down as president of basketball operations for the Pacers before the season began, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports.

Speaking to reporters today in Indianapolis, Bird said he informed team executives Kevin Pritchard and Peter Dinwiddie that this would be his last season in the position. The move wasn’t health related, Bird said, adding, “It’s a pretty easy decision … It’s just time to go.” (Twitter link).

Bird will remain with the organization as an advisor to Pritchard, the new team president. He plans to do some scouting for the Pacers — at the NBA, college and international levels — and will be a consultant to the upper management team when asked. “The one thing I don’t want to do is get in Kevin’s way,” Bird said. “That’s the last thing I want to do.” (Twitter link)

Bird touched on several other topics during his press conference:

  • He doesn’t believe his decision will have any effect on Paul George‘s future with the team. “I don’t think it should impact it at all,” Bird said. “Paul is going to do what Paul wants to do.” George has a player option for 2018/19, which means he has one more season before he can become a free agent. A Los Angeles native, George is widely believed to be headed to the Lakers as soon as the opportunity arises. Pritchard, who also spoke at today’s event, said he talked to George about his future for nearly an hour last week (Twitter link). The new president said “in every scenario he talked about being here.” (Twitter link).
  • The team’s financial picture didn’t influence Bird’s decision. Indiana heads into the summer with approximately $22MM in cap room and could have about $9MM more if C.J. Miles ($4.77MM) opts out and the team declines its option on Lavoy Allen ($4.3MM). “We’re going to have a better budget, we’re going to be able to do more things,” Bird said (Twitter link). He also praised owner Herb Simon for being committed to building a winner, adding “After looking at next year’s budget, I almost want to stay.” (Twitter link)
  • Bird also had kind words for his successor and jokingly wished Pritchard “good luck” as he took his place at the podium. (Twitter link). “The one thing I always say about Kevin is that you’re going to have a lot of deals on the table,” Bird said, “and you just have to decide which is best.” (Twitter link). Pritchard said his immediate goals are to add toughness and more energy to the team. “I want to get more physical, I want to get tougher,” he said. “I want guys who are completely high energy.” (Twitter link). Pritchard also expressed loyalty to Nate McMillan, who just completed his first season as head coach (Twitter link).

Larry Bird Stepping Down As Pacers President

MAY 1, 9:37am: The move is official, the Pacers announced on their website. Bird will hold a press conference later today to address his decision.

“I felt it was time to step away in a full-time capacity,” Bird said. “This has nothing to do with my health or our team. I’m 60 years old and I want to do other things away from basketball. I will do some scouting for the Pacers, NBA, college, international, do some appearances and stay in a capacity to advise senior basketball management. I love the Pacers, I grew up with the Pacers and admired them from a very young age. I want to thank the fans for their support throughout my career. I also want to thank (owner) Herb Simon for the many years of loyalty and for allowing me to stay with the team in a different role.”

APRIL 28, 11:32am: Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird is stepping down from his current role with the team, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard will assume control of the basketball operations department.Larry Bird vertical

While Bird will no longer be the Pacers’ president, he’s expected to continue to work with Pritchard and the front office as a consultant to the franchise, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Indiana Pacers]

The news comes as a bit of a surprise, as there had been little indication that Bird was considering leaving the Pacers. However, on the heels of a disappointing 2016/17 campaign and a quick playoff exit, changes of some sort were expected in Indiana. The front office shakeup could significantly change the outlook for the Pacers going forward as the team begins a crucial offseason.

For one, Pritchard was believed to be drawing some interest from the Magic as a potential replacement in Orlando’s front office for Rob Hennigan. Given his increasing role in Indiana, Pritchard now appears unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. As for Bird, Wojnarowski tweets that the Magic’s search firm has been asking around about him as a possible candidate for team president, but the Hall-of-Famer plans to stick to consulting for the time being.

Bird’s departure may also have an impact on Paul George‘s future in Indiana. Reports around the trade deadline – and before that – suggested that the team president was strongly in favor of retaining George and doing everything he could to lock up the star forward to a long-term deal with the Pacers. It’s not yet clear if Bird’s resignation makes an offseason trade of George more likely, but that will be a very interesting situation to monitor moving forward.

Bird had been the Pacers’ president of basketball operations since 2003, with the exception of the 2012/13 season, which he took off for health-related reasons. The team made it to the postseason nine times during that stretch, including three Eastern Conference Finals appearances. Bird also won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award in 2012.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions to Larry Bird’s Resignation

Larry Bird’s surprise announcement that he is resigning as president of the Pacers has raised a lot of questions about the future for both him and the organization. Here is a sampling of the reaction from NBA columnists:

  • The move feels like a surrender, assesses Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star, who adds that someone else will be left to work out the complicated situation with Paul George. Bird has been trying to rebuild the Pacers into a serious contender in the East since 2014 and has a non-playoff season and two first-round ousters to show for it. According to Doyel, Bird has been convinced for more than a year that George will opt out after next season and leave in free agency. The Pacers listened to offers for George before this year’s deadline, and the pressure to deal him will increase next season before he leaves with no return.
  • Bird’s decision is the first in a “seismic” offseason for the team, writes Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star. Bird won’t address the situation with reporters until Monday, but the move has already been made, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Taking over as president will be Kevin Pritchard, whom Bird recommended to owner Herb Simon. The organization’s main priority this offseason will be deciding how badly it wants to keep George. If he is voted to an All-NBA team, the Pacers can offer him an extra year and $75MM more than anyone else in free agency. But Taylor states that some people in the organization don’t believe George is worth that much.
  • The move wasn’t health related, Taylor notes (Twitter link). He adds that players weren’t warned about Bird’s possible departure in their exit interviews (Twitter link).
  • Bird’s exit signals the start of the rebuilding process, claims Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. That process starts with the return for George, and Ding says the Lakers and Celtics should both get their bids ready. The Pacers also must decide what to do about free agent point guard Jeff Teague, who would limit Indiana’s other options if he is re-signed with a hefty raise.

Eastern Rumors: Rondo, Bosh, Waiters, Magic

It was an up-and-down first year in Chicago for Rajon Rondo, who found himself in the starting lineup at times, and on the bench at other times. However, with the Bulls in the playoffs and holding their own so far against the No. 1 Celtics, Rondo said today that he hopes the club picks up its option on his contract for next season, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

“I like where I’m at. I think we have a really good team,” Rondo said of the Bulls. “We made a big trade halfway through the season. All the things this year with 45 different lineups, we still made it to the playoffs.”

Rondo’s deal calls for a salary worth more than $13MM next season, but currently only $3MM of that figure is guaranteed. As Johnson notes, the veteran point guard said today that he’d like to be back with the Bulls even if Dwyane Wade opts out of his contract this summer.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Appearing on Larry King Now on Sunday, Heat big man Chris Bosh – who missed the entire 2016/17 season due to blood clot issues – reiterated that he hasn’t closed the door on attempting an NBA comeback. Bosh also said that he doesn’t have any real interest in coaching basketball after he officially retires as a player. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel has the details and the quotes from Bosh.
  • James Johnson referred to Miami as “home” on Monday, and the Heat‘s other key free agent, Dion Waiters, also also expressed a desire to stay put this offseason, as Shandel Richardson of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Still, Waiters acknowledged that he “can’t predict the future,” so it remains to be seen what his free agency holds.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders examines the Magic‘s search for a new general manager, noting that current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard and former Pacers exec David Morway have both been mentioned by league sources as possible candidates for the Magic. Orlando head coach Frank Vogel worked with both Pritchard and Morway in Indiana.
  • Asked by Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype about his upcoming free agency, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko suggested that he’s “not closing any doors,” but he isn’t sure yet what his future holds.

Pacers Rumors: George, Stuckey, Henson, Hayward

Although the Pacers engaged in Paul George trade talks prior to last month’s deadline with at least the Celtics, Hawks, Sixers, and Nuggets, the team never seemed serious about moving him, league sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The club’s desire to keep George in Indiana is a key theme in Lowe’s deep dive on the Pacers, with team president Larry Bird expressing a willingness to spend all he can to build a competitive roster around his star forward.

“I have a budget,” Bird said. “Whatever that budget is, I’ll spend it. Sometimes, we can’t go after max guys, or players we really think could help us, because of our budget.

“Paul wants to compete for a title,” Bird added. “We want Paul here. He has expressed that he wants to be here. That could change overnight. You never know. But whatever I can spend, I’m going to spend.”

Here’s more from Lowe on the Pacers:

  • Prior to the trade deadline, the Pacers explored the possibility of trading veteran guard Rodney Stuckey for a backup rim protector. According to Lowe, John Henson of the Bucks was one player Indiana was eyeing in such a deal.
  • A February report indicated that the Pacers had made their 2017 first-round pick available in trade discussions as they looked to fortify their roster around George. That pick ultimately didn’t change hands, but it will be on the block again in June, Bird confirms.
  • Sources tell Lowe that George would “love” to play with Gordon Hayward, who will likely become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, as Lowe notes, the odds of Hayward signing with the Pacers probably aren’t great.
  • Here’s what George told Lowe about this year’s Pacers team: “This season has been a reality check. You think you are gonna be in those playoff battles, playing alongside those guys forever. You have to try and recapture that moment. And that moment for us was having a strong chemistry and identity. We don’t have one now. I’ve never been on a team without an identity — without a toughness identity.”
  • According to Lowe, GM Kevin Pritchard – Bird’s “top deputy” – is currently on a contract that will expire at season’s end. The Pacers will have to lock up Pritchard to a new deal soon or risk losing him to another club.
  • Whatever route Indiana takes this summer, a full-scale rebuild likely isn’t on the table. Lowe points out that the Pacers haven’t won fewer than 32 games or drafted higher than 10th in nearly three decades, with Bird saying of tanking, “We can’t do that around here.”

Agent Rob Pelinka Frontrunner For Lakers’ GM Job

With general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss having been relieved of their duties in the Lakers’ front office, new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will call the shots in L.A. However, the club remains on the lookout for a new GM, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter links), longtime player agent Rob Pelinka has emerged as a frontrunner for the position.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne first reported (via Twitter) that Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and many current NBA players, was on the Lakers’ radar for a front office role. If the team decides to hire Pelinka, he would have to divest himself of his representation business, which would take some time, as Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter).

Several other rumors are swirling as the Lakers’ front office undergoes major changes, so let’s round them up…

  • Assuming the Lakers haven’t already decided on Pelinka, there are a number of other potential candidates believed to be on their radar, per Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter links). According to Amick, Blazers GM Neil Olshey, former Cavs GM Chris Grant, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, and Pacers VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie are worth keeping an eye on.
  • ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that another veteran player agent – Arn Tellem – is also said to be a potential target for the Lakers. However, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets, Tellem – who formerly represented Kobe Bryant – has been very involved in the Pistons‘ move to downtown Detroit and seems unlikely to bolt in the middle of that project.
  • Magic Johnson has previously talked about wanting Bryant to have a role in the Lakers’ front office. Shelburne tweets that the future Hall-of-Famer is “happy doing what he’s doing,” but would be available to the organization if needed.
  • Jerry West hasn’t been approached by the Lakers about a role in the team’s front office, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. According to Ding (via Twitter), West won’t be a part of the club’s new management group.
  • According to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter links), one reason the Warriors were motivated to give GM Bob Myers a promotion and a raise last summer was to avoid making him a target for the Lakers.

Latest On Nets GM Search

THURSDAY, 6:56pm: The Nets intend to narrow their list of candidates down to two or three names by this weekend and Colangelo, Karnisovas and Marks are currently the front-runners for the vacant post, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 7:37am: Marks appears to be the strongest among the most recently reported candidates and has leaped in front of many of the candidates, reports NetsDaily. That’s even though Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich said Tuesday that he was unaware that Marks was in the mix for the job, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). He’s one of about 20 candidates the club has spoken to, a league source told NetsDaily, though it seems not all of them have received formal interviews. See more on Marks here.

TUESDAY, 10:53pm: The Nets intend to have a new GM in place by the February 18th trade deadline and are in the process of conducting interviews this week, with former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant and current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard both under consideration for the vacant post, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post reports, citing league sources (via Twitter). They join Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks, former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former Cavs and Hawks GM Danny Ferry, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Frank Zanin as candidates.

Grant was fired by Cleveland in February of 2014 and replaced by David Griffin, who eventually assumed the position full-time after initially being named interim GM. Grant first joined the Cavs as assistant GM in 2005 before taking over as GM on June 4th, 2010, roughly a month before LeBron James departed for the Heat as a free agent. Grant was responsible for the selections of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett during his time with the Cavs franchise.

Pritchard was Blazers GM from March of 2007 through June of 2010 and was responsible for the ill-fated selection of center Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA draft. After being fired from his post in Portland, he joined the Pacers as director of player personnel. The executive was promoted to GM in June of 2012 and has held the post ever since. Brooklyn would have had to request and receive permission from Indiana to speak with him about its available position.

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