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That warm feeling, Pacers staff, is underneath you

Jan 22, 2011, 10:00 AM EST

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

This is a long story, let-me-sum-up kind of weekend. Get used to it.

The short version: ESPN reports that Pacers management is unhappy with both coach Jim O’Brien and GM David Morway (you thought Larry Bird was the GM, didn’t you? Meet more Pacers fans. They’re nice.). They’re so unhappy, should the team suffer another losing season, they could both be released. Any firing of O’Brien would wait till the end of the year, as his assistants are considered unfit to take the reins. Meanwhile Kevin Pritchard is being discussed as a possible GM solution, having traveled with Bird during the team’s road trips recently, which of course Bird dismisses as just something he does from time to time.

The long version: Things are not good in Indiana. The team has the talent to lock up the seventh seed, right now. They’re a long ways away from that four seed, but the seven is not only something they can reach for, it’s something they should already have secured. Their competition in the Eastern Conference is a “hanging on by the very threads of their blanky” Bobcats, a Bucks team that is in full-on meltdown, melt-out Skiles mode, and Philadelphia, which, well, it’s Philly. But they haven’t. And as a result, O’Brien is on the hot seat.

Well, that’s not all of it. His minutes have been irregular. The team has yet to find a consistent rotation. Broussard specifically mentions the Tyler Hansbrough-Paul George complication, but the point guard situation is just as perplexing. Yes, both T.J. Ford and Darren Collison are talented (and to a lesser extent A.J. Price). But at some point the point guard question should be settled and you should have your guy. Throw in the backwards step of Roy Hibbert after an All-Star start and you have serious problems. The Pacers flat-out should be better than they are. And at some point you stop pointing fingers at youth and start blaming age.

Pritchard’s an intriguing choice, but the move would also signal a move away from Larry Bird in control. There’s very little chance of Pritchard, notoriously as proud as he is brilliant, would want to sign on to be a figurehead. He’d want power. Which means Bird would have to take a backseat, something he’s not particularly drawn to. But with Bird also getting up there in age, it’s possible that he could be looking for a younger face to take over the franchise after he steps down at the end of this contract, should he elect to.

The Pacers are in a make-or-break year. They make the playoffs and finally say they’re building on something, or big changes are around the corner.

  1. metalhead65 - Jan 22, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    a pacer fan can only hope the obrien era is almost over. it is not so much the losing that bothers us it is refusal to make any kind of adj. to the system he runs so that it fits the players he has. he only recently took the shackels off collison and let him do what he has always done and what made every team that needed a point guard want him. the pacers got him and obrien has him split time with ford who he would not let off the bench last year. he claims his system is simple and easy to run but nobody on that team is comfortable standing around shooting 3’s. it would be one thing if he was playing the young pacers Bird has aquired and losing but he refused until recently. plus he never makes in game adj. costing the pacers at least 3 wins this season. hibbert has regressed because teams know what the pacers are doing and have adj. to stop him while ob refuses to make any counter move. the sooner they get rid of him the better the team will be.

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