Former NBA player Bird attends premiere of Magic Bird in New York

Larry Bird is leaving Indiana Pacers, Walsh to step in


It had long been the thought around the league that this was Larry Bird’s last year as president of the Pacers. Bird denied it. Directly. More than once.

But in the end, he was ready to leave the Pacers.

Bird is stepping down as team president, reports the Indy Star.

Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not return as president of the team, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Star on Monday. Bird, 55, is expected to meet with owner Herb Simon today to finalize his departure…

Bird, who is dealing with some health issues (back and shoulder), will likely take a year off before deciding if he wants to return to any sort of front-office position.

He almost certainly will be replaced by Donnie Walsh, who is returning to the team he lead for many years before going to New York. While this has not been confirmed it makes perfect sense.

The Pacers are a team on the cusp — they had the third best record in the East last year, led by a young core including Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said recently he was more nervous when he team was down 2-1 to Indy than when they were down 3-2 to Boston. On top of their core, they have a lot of cap space to lure a free agent — if they can land a star they could be contenders in a crowded East.

There also has been buzz that Kevin Pritchard will be bumped up to general manager of the Pacers. Which is a good hire. There is a lot to like for Pacers fans, this should be a smooth transition.

Pelicans signing center Jerome Jordan

Marc Gasol, Jerome Jordan
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Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:

Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.