Kevin Pritchard now has daunting task of “retooling” Pacers

Kevin Pritchard has big shoes to fill. With the departure of Larry Bird, he is now faced with the task of “retooling” the Indiana Pacers and getting them back to the top of the Eastern conference.  Today, Larry Bird announcedwhat we all heard on Friday, that he was stepping down and Kevin Pritchard will take over as the President and GM of the Pacers.

Pritchard has been with the Pacers since 2011 in a backup role to Larry Bird. Kevin has been mentored and groomed the past 6 seasons to succeed Larry when the time was right.  That time is now.

ORG XMIT: INMC105 Kevin Pritchard, left, talks about his role as the new general manger of the Indiana Pacers as Larry Bird listens during an announcement by the NBA basketball team in Indianapolis, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Bird stepped down as president of the team and will be replaced by Donnie Walsh. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

As Pritchard took his seat at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse today, he stated “This seat already feels hot.” This Pacers team is at a junction and if this experiment ends badly, Pritchard will be the one who is hated.  The Pacers franchise, his job, and his career destroyed by the departure of Paul George.  What Paul George decides is still up in the air, but you can imagine both scenarios playing out.

Paul George could leave this off-season in a trade, which could bring players or picks for George’s services.  He could also be traded at the trade deadline next season for less value before leaving.  Or, there is the scenario of Paul George playing all of the 2017-18 season in Indiana and then bolting afterwards leaving Indiana with nothing for his departure.

Another scenario, which seems to be a long shot, is George signing a five-year extension and staying with the Pacers through 2023.  But yet again, he could leave and go back home to L.A. to play for a rebuilding Lakers or Clippers team.

The Pacers have 12 months to sway Paul George to stay. They can achieve this by being successful in the draft, a solid free agency, and being competitive during the 17-18 season.  There is also the side note of George making the All-NBA team, where he could sign a 1 year $70 million deal (which is more than he can make with any other team) and then deal with free agency the following year.

Kevin Pritchard mentioned during his press conference today that he spoke to Paul George for almost an hour over the weekend, and all scenarios were about PG coming back to Indiana and winning.  Kevin mentioned that he wants to be aggressive this off-season with the draft and in free agency.

Pritchard said that he felt Jeff Teague had a good season and he embraced getting to know Jeff over the season. As much as the Pacers want a fair deal, they are open to negotiations with Jeff and want him to stay here in Indianapolis. Pritchard said that Herb Simon will spend the necessary money this off-season to make the team better.

The salary cap looks a lot better this off-season with up to $32.6 million dollars available to spend.  The Pacers are currently only on the books for $64 million dollars next year, and some of the ugly contracts that Pritchard needs to dump include Monte Ellis ( $11.2 million) and Al Jefferson ($9.7 million). If he can move those two contracts and a draft pick for nothing and then spend that money on a free agent star, then this could be a good start for the Pritchard regime in keeping Paul George.

Kevin Pritchard has roughly one month and three weeks before the NBA draft to decide what direction he wants to go with the Indiana Pacers, and hopefully Paul George will make his decision and tell the Pacers so they can go one way or another.

This is going to be one interesting off-season to say the least.  Stay tuned!

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