Friday, May 6, 2016

Casualty of bore(d)

Hey, I get it, Larry Bird. Sometimes a guy just gets tired of a guy.

Sometimes you've just gotta switch it up, and so you call a news conference and you say nice things about your head coach and then you fire him, trying to soften the blow by saying you're not really firing him (except you are). You say stuff that sounds good until you stop to think about it, like how the Indiana Pacers needed a "new voice." As if this were, I don't know, an episode of American Idol or something.

The truth is less fuzzy.

The truth is, Larry Bird apparently just got bored with Frank Vogel.

No other rationale makes sense for offloading a coach who, despite what Bird thinks, worked pretty close to a miracle with a flawed team this season. The Pacers braintrust, of which Bird is the lead brain, gave Vogel an almost entirely new  team whose second-best player was a 19-year-old kid named Myles Turner. They were Paul George and the Georgettes. And somehow Vogel squeezed 45 wins out of them, turned them into the third-best defensive team in the league and got them to the playoffs, where the Pacers pushed the 2-seed in the East to seven games.

And yet somehow Bird viewed that as an indictment.

It all gets curiouser and curiouser the more you examine it, because Vogel is clearly one of the bright young coaches in the NBA, winning 250 games in six seasons and making the playoffs every year except for 2014-15, when George was out after gruesomely breaking his leg. He lost one All-Star (Danny Granger) and never got him back. He oversaw a virtual revamp of the lineup after David West, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson departed. And still he won a heck of a lot more than he lost.

Now he's on the street, where he won't linger long. And Bird is left to replace him with ... who, exactly?

That's the other thing about this: The timing. Is there anyone available right now among the usual suspects you could call an upgrade from Vogel and keep a straight face? And if there isn't, why do you cut ties with a coach the rest of the league is going to trample one another to hire?

Because you needed "a new voice"?

Well. I suppose Kelly Clarkson could throw her hat in the ring. Or maybe Bird will pick up the phone and give the Chicago Bulls a jingle.

The Bulls! Sure, that's it. Remember how they dumped Tom Thibodeaux because he was too grumpy and brought in that nice boy Fred Hoiberg? Look how awesome that turned out!

Call 'em now, Larry. Operators are standing by.

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