Kevin Pritchard went from hot-shot GM to jobless in a hurry. All of Pritchard's slick moves as general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers couldn't protect him from being relieved of his duties in the summer of 2010. Falls from grace happen just that quickly in today's NBA, despite the fact that Pritchard's exit seemed linked to the ongoing injury problems of Brandon Roy and Greg Oden more than any consistent failures in decision-making. Pritchard's work was certainly imperfect, but he largely did right by the Trail Blazers franchise with his signings, trade acquisitions, and draft decisions. Paul Allen disagreed, and that was that.
But the NBA is an industry built on familiar names and second chances. Pritchard was hired a year later by the Indiana Pacers to work as Director of Player Personnel, and is now set to take over as the Pacers general manager under team president Larry Bird, per Adrian Wojnarowski Yahoo Sports. Soon-to-be-former GM David Morway acts as the collateral damage of this tale; despite the fact that Morway played a big role in the Pacers' construction, Bird reportedly opted to promote Pritchard lest he be swooped up by another team. The musical chairs in Indiana's front office seems a bit strange, but the lengths Bird went to in order to keep Pritchard are telling; Pritchard may not be as infallible as he once seemed, but he clearly has a good mind for this particular industry and should serve the Pacers well.
And now that he's soon to officially be back in a role as general manager, he'll hold all of the responsibility that goes along with that post. Bird may be the more visible and established decision-maker, but Pritchard was promoted for a reason, and his journey as an NBA GM will continue shortly. And with all that rests on the Pacers' plate this off-season, it won't be long before he's properly tested.
The re-signing of Roy Hibbert and George Hill. The replacement of Leandro Barbosa and, potentially, Lou Amundson (don't scoff; where would you recommend the Pacers find a useful scorer and reserve big on a budget?). The utilization of a substantial amount of cap space at a crucial time in the team's evolution. The maximization of a late first-round pick. Pritchard will have an active part in deciding all of it, in the first act of a renewed GM-ing career.
The Pacers made many good moves under Bird and Morway, but this is their chance to make the move under Bird and Pritchard. Predicting the potential for their success is useless; all that's left is to see how things unfold in Indiana, and to see if this reshuffled front office can make the most of a golden opportunity.
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