The Indiana Pacers are feeling more confident about their ability to
land Larry Bird, sources told the Herald last night. The team's last
concern is that Bird might be convinced to stay with the Celtics in a
final pitch by owner Paul Gaston.
how the relationship between Bird and the Celts has seemingly unraveled
in the last week, however, there is room to question how receptive Bird
would be to such a pitch - and whether the club would even want to make
While each side has said on the
record it is still interested in working with the other, indications are
they would rather be free from each other.
Bird is wary of the backbiting and shifting agendas within the Celtics organization.
Celtics organization is wary of Bird's unvarnished candor, questioning
whether he would be able to deal in-house with issues he believes need
As one source put it, "Can the
Celtics afford to let Larry Bird go? The better question might be
whether they can afford to keep him."
If the Celts can lure Rick Pitino
into their fold, they could escape the fallout of a Bird departure.
Even getting past the issue of whether it would be financially prudent
to pay the two the kind of money they can attract, there would be the
matter of who is ultimately calling the shots.
But the prevailing public sentiment seems to be that a Pitino in hand would be better than a Bird in the front office - if, that is, one had to choose between the two.
while Gaston may well be simply looking to create the best staff to
build a successful club, he would be foolish not to also has to take
into account the public reaction. There are, after all, tickets to be
sold and new television and radio deals on the not too distant horizon.
the Pacers do not necessarily offer Bird the major-market size and
tradition of Boston and the Celtics, they do have an uncluttered
hierarchy. Bird has had very good discussions with Pacers general
manager Donnie Walsh, and the club's ownership has long tried to get him
back to his home state.
Walsh has stated a
belief said he thinks Bird will do well as a coach in the NBA, but the
Pacer offer is also designed to give Bird the opportunity to move to a
front office job if he does not find the bench to his liking.
wouldn't offer him the job if I didn't think he could do it," Walsh
told the Herald recently. "As a franchise, we're beyond that kind of
thing - just trying to get him because he's Larry Bird. I think he's got
a great mind for the game. Anything he brings to us beyond that is