Jun 9, 2011, 8:28 PM EDT
The Indiana Pacers have made significant progress toward deciding to make interim Frank Vogel the permanent head coach while working to strengthen his grip on the locker room, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
No final decision has been reached, but sources said most of the hurdles have been cleared for Vogel to be offered a multi-year contract in the near future.
Bird and Vogel have met several times in recent weeks, and have targeted several assistant coaches – including Terry Porter and J.B. Bickerstaff – that the Pacers would like to surround Vogel.
Indiana hasn’t completely ruled out waiting longer and meeting with outside candidates, but management and Vogel have been increasingly in agreement on how to proceed forward together. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has urged Bird – a close friend of his – to consider assistant coach Dwane Casey, but that appears a more unlikely route.
From an outside perspective, Vogel certainly seemed to earn the Pacers’ job in earnest when he turned around Indiana’s regular season, got them into the playoffs, and refused to go quietly against the 62-win Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. According to Wojnarowski, however, the Pacers’ front office does have some concerns about how much respect Vogel commands from his players, which they hope to allay by surrounding Vogel with some experienced assistant coaches this off-season.