With the regular season a little over a week away, let’s address some recent goings-on with the Indiana Pacers.
BIRD STEPPING DOWN?
-Earlier this week it was reported by Peter Vecsey, an NBA columnist and noted rumor-monger with the New York Post, that Larry Bird would be stepping down as President of the Pacers at the conclusion of this season.
Citing two unnamed sources who claimed Bird was suffering from “health and lack-of-enjoyment” issues, Vecsey went on to call into question Bird’s reasoning for handing Jim O’Brien a recent contract extension. According to his source; “players were sick when they heard about the extension,” which led Vecsey to conclude that Larry Legend was simply rewarding O’Brien for his work last season, and that Bird knows he’s “going to fire him should the team get off to a horrible start.”
It makes for a pretty intriguing story, it really does…too bad I don’t believe a word of it.
For starters, Vecsey has made a career of perpetuating half-truths and rumors as reality. In my book, he has as much credibility as Richard Heene, the balloon boy’s father (take a look at this column from last year detailing Indiana’s trade of Jamaal Tinsley to the Nuggets for further proof).
Vecsey’s questionable reporting aside, everyone in the Indiana organization, from Herb Simon, to O’Brien, to Bird himself have stated that the rumors are completely unfounded (O’Brien’s quote was pretty telling; “He’s not leaving, I know that for a fact. I don’t think you worry about any stories that have unnamed sources in them.”).
I agree with O’Brien, this story appears to have very little credibility to it, but it could be worth keeping tabs on if the Pacers stumble badly out of the gate.
PACERS CUT THREE
-In an effort to get trim their roster to the league maximum of 15 players, the Pacers cut Rod Benson, Demetris Nichols, and Lawrence Roberts on Monday. With 15 players already signed to guaranteed contracts, it was no surprise to see the three camp invitees get the boot, although the departure of blogging sensation Rod Benson is a bit disappointing (I was really looking forward to reading about his experiences tearing through the Indianapolis nightlife). The roster downsizing does present a bit of a problem going forward however, as Mike Dunleavy (knee), T.J. Ford (hamstring), Travis Diener (foot), Tyler Hansbrough (shin) and Jeff Foster (back) will all be out of action for Wednesday’s preseason game against Orlando, leaving the team with just 10 healthy bodies.
THE RETURN OF HANSBROUGH AND DUNLEAVY?
-Speaking of injuries, Hansbrough’s been doing some on-court work with coaches over the last few weeks, and has made enough progress that live halfcourt action could be in his near future. From Pacers.com:
“They want to see how he does after they’ve upped his workouts,” said O’Brien. “I think if he has responded well, then maybe they’ll get him in the halfcourt but he has to prove his shin can handle what he’s been doing.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. My guess is we won’t see the first-round pick until sometime near the end of November, but as long as he gets 100-percent healthy, the wait will be well worth it for basketball fans in Indianapolis.
The news isn’t so positive for Dunleavy; he’s yet to be cleared for on-court action, and there’s no established timeline for him to do so. At this point, expecting him to play at all this year seems a risky proposition.
-The Pacers wrap up the preseason with a game in Orlando on Wednesday night, and Indianapolis sports enthusiasts get a rare look at professional basketball in Bloomington on Friday night as the Pacers hosts the Spurs. They tip off the regular season October 28 in Atlanta, with the first home game coming against Miami on the 30th. If you’re interested in attending Conseco Fieldhouse for that event, there’re still plenty of tickets available.
For more Pacers news, keep coming back to funcityfinder.com. And if you want to catch the Pacers live in action on a frequent basis this season, check out more information about relocation to Indianapolis.