There were reports earlier this week that the Pacers were considering bringing in Reggie Miller to work under Larry Bird in the hopes that Bird could help groom Miller to be his successor. It was a pretty good plan considering Bird’s been on the fence for the past three seasons about whether to retire or not. But now it seems that the Pacers want to let everyone know that hey, hey, Bird’s their man, if he can’t do it, they’re in trouble because he’s their only plan right now.
From the Indianapolis Star:
When asked via email if he or anybody else has talked to people, including Donnie Walsh, to get their thoughts about Miller in the Pacers front office, Simon said, “No..hoping Larry stays as long as he wants.”
The Pacers started doing background checks on possible replacements for Bird last season when Pacers Sports and Entertainment president Jim Morris made calls around the league about potential candidates. Bird planned to walk away from the job when he met with Simon in May but decided to stick around a little while longer.
This sounds like one of those “say what will calm economic experts” thing that doesn’t really reflect the situation. Bird has made a lot of noise about wanting to hang up his manager shoes and go back to the farm, and the fact that he hasn’t dominated at this like he did playing probably sticks with him a bit. But the Pacers need to make it seem like they’re not just stuck in a lame duck year with Bird in charge, hence the email.
Miller’s the right choice to take over, and should be given a shot. Bring him in as General Manager to work under Bird as president, let him learn the ropes, then give him the wheel. Otherwise you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.