SBD/May 31, 2012/Franchises

Larry Bird Wants Answers From Herb Simon Before Committing To Pacers For Next Season

Bird said he wants to make sure he and Simon agree on direction of the team
Before Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird decides if he will return next season, he needs to "make sure he and team owner Herb Simon are on the same page," according to Mike Wells of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Bird said of his upcoming talks with Simon, "Just a number of questions. I've got a lot of them written down to ask him and hopefully we can get the answers we like and move on." Bird "wants to make sure Simon agrees with him on the direction of the franchise." Simon is "willing to spend on players -- except restricted free agents -- if he knows it will benefit the franchise." Bird has been in "complete control of basketball operations for the past four years," and was named '12 NBA Exec of the Year (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/31). Wells writes Bird "put a damper on the hope of some fans when he said that Simon doesn’t like pursing other team’s restricted free agents." Bird said, "Me, I’d go after them. My owner won’t let me. I’d go after anybody. I understand his point of view. If you go after them you’re going to overpay. When we talked about that four years ago, I agreed with him. In a small market, you don’t want to get in a bidding war for players. I would like to. If that’s a rule he’s got, we live by it" (, 5/31).

SPEND WISELY: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes Bird "wants to win championships, and there's only one way that's going to happen in the next few years," and that is by "spending money." Kravitz: "That's what this whole Bird-Herb Simon conversation will be about: the owner's willingness to spend, something he has done in the past but might be disinclined to do with such lousy recent results at the gate." If Simon "gives Bird more freedom -- and the Pacers figure to be about $10 million under the new salary cap -- that's great. If he doesn't -- and you'll know he hasn't if Bird walks away -- the Pacers still have a chance to remain good for years to come." Kravitz: "But to be a champion, or at least compete for titles? That's hard to do when you're 24th in total payroll" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/31).

DOWN SOUTH: In Atlanta, Michael Cunningham reports Hawks GM Rick Sund has "had discussions" with the team's owners about returning to the club, "but no agreement has been reached to return for a fifth season." Sund's contract expires at the end of June, and he said, "Nothing has been resolved at this point. We will have some more discussions, and then the process will play itself out at some point and time." In addition to re-signing with the Hawks, Sund's "potential options include an advisory role with either the Hawks or another club." Cunningham notes the Trail Blazers reportedly were interested in talking to Sund about their GM vacancy, "but have narrowed their list of candidates" to three other execs (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 5/31).
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