As Larry Bird finalizes his deal to continue as Indiana Pacers president, he plans to elevate Kevin Pritchard to become the franchise’s general manager, multiple league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Bird has increasingly grown to trust Pritchard’s counsel since Pritchard's hiring as the Pacers' director of player personnel a year ago. Pritchard’s promotion will spell the end of David Morway’s successful tenure as GM, sources said.
Bird told organizational sources that he hadn’t broached the GM job with Pritchard until he believed Morway was destined to land the Portland Trail Blazers' GM position several weeks ago. Once Morway lost out on the Portland job to Clippers GM Neil Olshey, Bird feared he would lose Pritchard to a more prominent position with another organization and ultimately made the call to keep him over Morway.
Pritchard briefly had been a teammate of Bird’s with the Boston Celtics, and he comes from a more traditional basketball background. That always gave him an advantage over Morway, who came from an agent and legal background. As the Indianapolis Star reported, there had been cracks in the Bird-Morway relationship.
Nevertheless, Bird has been insistent that Pritchard never lobbied or undercut Morway to get his job. “Larry likes who Larry likes,” one Pacers source said. “Politics don’t work with Larry, anyway.”
Bird still has to finalize a deal with Pacers owner Herb Simon for Pritchard’s promotion to be made official.
Pritchard had a modestly successfully, but tumultuous three-year run as the Portland Trail Blazers' GM from 2007-10. He drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Nic Batum, but also had some first-round picks – that cost the Blazers millions of dollars to acquire – never pan out. Pritchard’s self-aggrandizing management style alienated those inside and outside the Blazers organization and ultimately led to owner Paul Allen firing him on draft night in 2010.
In some ways, Pritchard is best known for jumpstarting the Oklahoma City Thunder’s rise to prominence in the Western Conference after he chose Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Landing Durant turned out to be a seminal moment for the freshly crowned 2012 Western Conference champions.
The Pacers' move is largely baffling to league executives who believe Morway played a significant part in the franchise's rise to contention in the Eastern Conference this season. Morway helped replenish the Pacers through the draft and trades. Indiana lost in six games to the Miami Heat in the East semifinals.
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