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Volume 24 No. 158
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NBA Franchise Notes: Bird's Return To Pacers Hailed For Unity

In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes the Pacers starting Monday “will speak again with one voice, which is the best news that comes" from Larry Bird’s return as team President. Bird on Thursday said Pacers Owner Herb Simon called him a couple weeks ago and said, "You either want to do this or you don’t." Bird: "I understand. Because whether they’re going to go get someone else, they were going to move [GM] Kevin Pritchard in there or have Donnie [Walsh] stay, they had to have an answer.” He added, “My interest got real when other teams (including Sacramento) started calling. And one team in particular, looking at their books, looking at their numbers, and I said, ‘What am I doing? I’ve got an opportunity to go back home.'” Kravitz notes Bird “made it clear, though, that he never got too deeply into discussions with other franchises” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/28).

: The Nets have agreed to acquire Fs Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and G Jason Terry from the Celtics for a package of players and draft picks, and ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor wrote under the header, “Prokhorov Turns Nets Into Contenders.” It turns out Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov “wasn't kidding" when he stated after buying the team in '10 he expected the Nets to win a title in five years. With the trade, the Nets “blew past the Knicks” (, 6/27).

With Raptors President Bryan Colangelo stepping down from his role,'s Paul Jones wondered how the "Colangelo era and tenure as general manager be remembered in Toronto.” Colangelo initially “brought the shine back to the team that was applied at the start of the new millennium.” He showed the “same boldness he did in Phoenix by going against the grain with a team that played unconventionally while winning and were thoroughly entertaining.” But Colangelo’s “strength turned out to be his weakness as he continued to tweak and tinker -- maybe too much, and possibly to a fault.” Some personnel moves “looked good on paper but when players don’t perform, everything turns out bad” (, 6/27).

MAKE IT SNAPPY: ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin cites a source as saying that C Dwight Howard "expects to be ready to choose his team as soon as the NBA's moratorium on new business is lifted July 10." Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, who hopes to re-sign Howard, said, "I don't think it's Dwight's goal to drag it out. Whether he's with us or with another team, everybody this time of year has business to take care of" (, 6/28). Meanwhile, ESPN Radio's Mike Golic said the Lakers' billboard campaign to convince Howard to stay with the team is "desperate." Golic: "You see it slipping away and you try anything. ... It was a desperate move that doesn't look like it's going to work" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 6/28).