Two days after a 38-44 season ended without a fifth consecutive playoff appearance, the team president spoke Friday about the team’s need to adapt to the NBA’s changing times with a more versatile lineup.
The Pacers ranked 24th in points at 97.3 points per game. They were tied for third at 97 points allowed.
In the past, the Pacers have prided themselves in balancing the talents of two-time All-Star Paul George and a capable perimeter game with a strong inside presence. But injuries took their toll — a combined 219 games missed — while forward David West and center Roy Hibbert, who have final-year options to return, had lesser numbers last season.
Bird was vocal about Hibbert not having a “good year,” and suggested the enigmatic center, who had his lowest numbers since his rookie season, will likely have a lesser role next season should he decide to come back.
Bird also said the team needs to take better care of West, who will turn 35 in August, by playing him fewer minutes in his 13th season. The forward was injured in preseason and battled nagging physical issues all season, Bird said.
George played the team’s final six games due to a compound fracture suffered Aug. 1. The team president said he would like to mix him in at the power forward position next season because of his versatility, although that plan could hinge on the player selected in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Here’s a video of some of Bird’s talking points.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.