NBA: Larry Bird Returning to the Indiana Pacers to Finish What He Started

No NameAnalyst IMay 10, 2011

"The Hick from French Lick," Larry Bird, has announced he will stay in state to finish the project he began with the Indiana Pacers.

Pacers owner Herb Simon met with Bird today in Los Angeles. The team then announced that general manager David Morway, along with Bird as President, will return to the Pacers' organization next season.

This can only been seen as good news for Pacers fans.

Bird began this project years ago and is now finally in a position to make a big move in regards to the roster, as the Pacers will have more money than any other team to spend on free agents this summer.

While there are no superstars on the free agent list this year, there are plenty of guys they can bring in to greatly improve the team.

Indiana finished the season on a very high note, making the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Not only did they make the postseason, but they took the best team in the league, the league MVP and Coach of the Year down to the wire nearly every game in the first-round series.

They lost the series 4-1, but they fought every game and should have won more than the one game they did.

Not only does the team have some of the best young talent in the league, but they also have a chance to pick their own coach as well.

The most likely candidate is Frank Vogel, who was the interim coach last season after Jim O'Brien was fired. Vogel led the Pacers into the postseason with a 20-18 record as the head coach. Bird said Vogel would get the first and last interview for the position next season.

While it is too early to tell if Vogel will be a great coach, we know the players like him and they listen to him; more importantly, they really believe in his style of play.

Obviously, it is good to have Bird back because he is going to be able to finish his rebuilding process here. With new blood coming in, trying to keep it going without him would not work out at all.

More good news for the Pacers is that it appears they are going to spend some of their money on talent this year. Bird said he would only come back if the organization was committed to spending money and adding more talent to the already exciting young roster.

"I'm quite pleased with the success we experienced this past season and pleased with the direction our team is going," Simon said in a statement.

"I'm glad Larry is staying to help us continue in the positive direction we are going."

Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster, T.J. Ford, Josh McRoberts and Solomon Jones are the five free agents Indiana has. With those players leaving, the Pacers will reportedly clear roughly $34 million from their payroll.

Bird made it clear in April that he loved his job, and he felt confident in his ability to make the necessary moves for the Pacers to compete at a high level in the East.