Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird is stepping down, ending his second tenure running the franchise’s basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.
Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard will replace Bird as the franchise’s top basketball decision-maker, league sources told The Vertical.
Bird is planning to remain with the organization in a consulting role, sources said.
Bird leaves the franchise at a crucial crossroads, with possible free agency looming for franchise star Paul George in the summer of 2018. The Pacers will have to decide on whether to continue to work on selling George on a future with the franchise, or consider the possibility of trading him to extract maximum value before George can leave in free agency.
The Pacers’ front office includes assistant GM Peter Dinwiddie, director of scouting Ryan Carr and consultant Donnie Walsh.
Bird’s contract is expiring at season’s end, which could allow him to become a candidate elsewhere.
The Orlando Magic are searching for a president and general manager, and the search firm running the Magic’s process has been asking other league executives about Bird as a possible candidate, sources told The Vertical. For now, Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin remains the top candidate in the Magic’s search, but Orlando hasn’t yet asked for permission to speak with Griffin, largely because of the Cavaliers’ playoff status, sources said.
After coaching the Pacers for three seasons until 2003, which included an NBA Finals appearance in 2000 and Coach of the Year honor in 1998, Bird became president of basketball operations for the next nine years. He oversaw the drafting of several cornerstone players, including George, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert. Bird stepped away in 2012 and returned in 2013 to run the organization again, drafting promising center Myles Turner in 2015.
Pritchard was the Portland Trail Blazers’ GM for three years (2007-10), drafting future franchise cornerstones Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge – and also choosing Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007.
Pritchard joined the Pacers as director of player personnel in 2011 and became GM in 2012 under Bird.
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