Larry Bird made his intentions about his future with the Indiana Pacers very clear in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon: Bird would like to continue his term as President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers, as long as Team Owner Herb Simon will have him.
"I love my job. I don't want to sign a four or five year deal, but I do love this team," said Bird.
Bird quickly brushed off the retirement questions to focus more on what improvements the Indiana Pacers need to make as a team to be more successful in the 2012-2013 season. The Pacers finished 42-24 in the regular season, good enough to be third seeded in the Eastern Conference before losing to Miami in the second round. Bird emphasized there is room for improvement in the franchise, most notably on the bench.
"We had a pretty good bench there for awhile," said Bird.
"It wasn't as consistent as I would like, so I think we need to build on that. If you look at the playoffs, especially against Miami, we really didn't get the type of play we needed to beat them, especially from our bench. Our starters did pretty decent, but for us to be successful in a small market we have to have a better bench."
Bird praised the 2011-12 squad and Head Coach Frank Vogel for their ability to improve as the season continued on, and Bird would like to keep this young core together. That includes making an attempt to keep restricted free agents in point guard George Hill and All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Bird wouldn't go into details however on how much the Pacers would be willing to spend on Hibbert, but hopes the team will be able to at least match any outside offers from teams around the league.
"I don't want to elaborate on that because I don't know what the number is," said Bird when asked what would be too much for Hibbert.
"That is going to be a decision. We can sign Roy to a five-year deal where other teams can sign him for four-years. I don't worry about that too much. You know if it is something crazy that we can't handle, then we can't handle it and we move on. But our goal is to sign all of our players. That is why we put ourselves in this position we are in."
Don't expect the Pacers to sign a superstar like many other teams may do this summer. Bird wants to focus on long term for the Pacers. "We don't look just for next year, we look down the road two to three years. Don't spend it all at once."
Bird recognizes that growing the fan base is an essential part to building the franchise back up.
"We have to build our fan base, drive revenues and as a team we have to get better."