Frank Vogel sums up season, eyes future

Pacers coach is excited about Larry Bird's plan for faster, quicker lineup, admits 38-44 season cut short by injuries.

As the old adage goes, injuries aren’t an excuse, but Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel couldn’t help but admit they were a huge factor in his team missing the playoffs.

Vogel conceded the team tried to overcome a combined 219 games missed due to injuries, but came up just a little short at 38-44, tying for eighth in the Eastern Conference but failing to earn a fifth consecutive playoff berth due to the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Brooklyn Nets.

The coach echoed the sentiments of Pacers president Larry Bird Friday in saying the team wants to shift to a smaller, quicker lineup next season. He’s excited about changing the blueprint with more versatile players.

Vogel defended center Roy Hibbert, who had the lowest numbers since his rookie year, saying at least some of that could be attributed to playing fewer minutes. Bird had said a few minutes earlier that he didn’t think Hibbert had a good year, and suggested a lesser role should the center decide to return. The center has a final-year contract option.

The Pacers are faced with numerous decisions in the offseason. Hilbert as well as forward David West have final-year contract options. Should they return, and they’re expected to be back, their salaries how much Bird can spend on new players.

The team would like to re-sign reserve guard Rodney Stuckey or forward Luis Scola, who are set to become free agents.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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