Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog - Bird, Morway ready to make moves to bolster roster

Bird, Morway ready to make moves to bolster roster

Indianapolis (Dec. 2, 2011) -- Larry Bird and David Morway have spent the last three years making moves aimed directly at this moment. They have unprecedented salary cap space, a well-stocked roster built around a young nucleus and a market that promises to be flooded with available talent.

Just because they have become buyers in a seller's market, however, doesn't mean they can shop till they drop. They must stick to the plan that put them in this position, in hopes that it can be maintained.

"We're not going to spend all of our money right away because next year we come off (the cap) some more, about $10-11 million more," Bird. "In a short period of time here, this team should be in a position to compete at a high level because of the situation we're in.

"Just because you have a lot of cap space doesn't mean you need to go out and spend $21 million. You want to get the right pieces, knowing that next summer we're going to be in the same situation. Eventually we've got to sign our own players but we feel we're in a good position to make something good happen.'

Team President Bird and General Manager Morway met with the media Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse to address key issues as the NBA spools back up in preparation for a 66-game season to begin Dec. 25. With 11 players under contract including their top six players (the five starters that ended last season and draft-night acquisition George Hill) the Pacers expect to have roughly $21 million in cap space available once the final numbers are announced.

With training camp set to open next Friday, Bird and Morway are heading into a compressed free agent and trade market that promises a frenzy of activity.

"There's no question this is a little different," Morway said. "We're trying to pack in three months of work in five or seven days so it makes it a little more difficult but we spent the summer preparing. I think we have a good game plan and we're going to stay disciplined to it and we think if we do that good things will happen.

"We're really excited about our young group and the core group that we have here. We finished strong obviously last year, we added George Hill, we expect that our players have worked really hard this offseason and that they're going to take steps. We don't feel like we're in a position where we have to add a player, we've got very good players right now at every position on this basketball team although they're still very young. We want to continue to add to the team but we want to do it diligently and with prudence."

While declining to discuss potential free agent or trade acquisitions or identify specific team needs, Bird and Morway made it clear they would be very active in pursuit of roster upgrades -- but that they're in position to be selective.

"Over the course of the next two or three weeks, you're going to hear a lot of rumors and there's going to be a lot of things out there that have us right in the middle of it," Bird said. "I wouldn't believe any of it. We've talked to teams about players but it's a long process and it's just the beginning. There's going to be a lot of rumors out there. …

"I think we're going to be a better team just with the addition of George Hill. But we do have some gaps and we're going to fill the gaps. I don't know the timeline on that but as we go forward we'll see what's available to us."

Most of the media speculation has focused on the pursuit of a top-flight power forward and possibly an additional shooter for the backcourt. Bird said he fully expects quality veterans to be made available as teams try to quickly cut their payrolls but that he must keep both the short- and long-term vision in mind. While the young roster could use some seasoned veterans, such moves must be made carefully to be sure of the right fit.

"We have a young team but we also have to add some maturity to that," Morway said. "With the right guy who can bring the type of character to this team and has won, guys that know how to win and come from great franchises, we're certainly going to look at that."

The idea isn't just to build a contender this year, but for years to come.

"We've got some cap room and we're getting a lot more calls so it's interesting and it's just begun but we figure in the next week or so it's going to be pretty active," Bird said in his first press briefing in more than five months Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse. "We've been pretty patient the last three years to get us here. I don't think there's a need to rush into things and make some decisions that's going to hurt us in the long run. There are some players out there we're very interested in and we're going to try to make a move to get them."

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