The Herald Bulletin

June 26, 2013

Rick Teverbaugh: What does Bird's return mean?


The Herald Bulletin

---- — The power of social media struck the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday afternoon.

The Pacers announced a press conference for today at 10 a.m. for a major announcement. Less than an hour later, after Twitter and other places blew up with the news and the secret was out of the bag, the team confirmed that Larry Bird was returning as director of basketball operations.

Certainly there will be debate between now and the opening of the NBA season as to the merits of Bird's re-hiring and his impact on what happened to the team during his one-season absence. But I don't want to get into that discussion right now.

I'd rather look at potentially how Bird's return might alter the path the Pacers will take this offseason.

It won't take long to see a possible impact since the college draft is tonight. The name of Brigham Young product Jimmer Fredette has been tossed around. Indiana might peddle its first-round pick and a player to Sacramento for Fredette and the Kings' second-round pick.

It seems to me that I remember Bird having some nice things to say about Jimmer when he left college.

Indiana needs another shooter, probably to play with the second unit. Fredette only averaged about 14 minutes per game and 7.2 points. More importantly, he hit over 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Those figures would seem to indicate Fredette could be a good fit.

There also has been a lot of speculation about Danny Granger being traded. He has been most often connected to the Los Angeles Clippers, though not as often lately. Yet Granger has been a favorite of Bird. He might think twice about pulling the trigger on a Granger deal.

I might be reluctant to trade Granger as well, especially coming off a season when he was virtually sidelined for the entire year. That's not usually the prime time to get top value for a very talented player.

It might be that Granger will be a starter and Lance Stephenson will be moved back to the second unit.

Of course, no trades might be made today, and the Pacers might just use their pick to add a good college player to the roster. That might not reveal that much about Bird's guiding hand down the stretch as he likely didn't have much input into what players will be on Indiana's board.

I started looking forward to the next Pacers season before all of the players left the floor after losing the final playoff game against Miami. Having Bird added to the mix now heightens that anticipation.

I wasn't a fan of Bird as a head coach. He wasn't much of a strategist. But he was good with players. He made players want to perform at their highest level. He can do that again as he returns as director of basketball operations. We could be pointing toward a season to remember for the Pacers.

Sports Editor Rick Teverbaugh's columns appear twice weekly.