Live from Larry Bird's Office
June 21, 2011 - Earlier today, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird invited Mark Boyle into his office in Conseco Fieldhouse to discuss the 2011 NBA Draft. During the meeting, Larry discusses the process behind the draft and how he comes to the decision on draft night. After meeting with Boyle, Larry sat down with the media to discuss the draft. All of the videos along with the written transcript from the interview with Mark Boyle are below.
Mark Boyle: Welcome to Pacers.com. I’m Mark Boyle with Larry Bird. The NBA draft is coming, Larry, is coming up on Thursday. We thought this would be a good time to touch base and see how things are going. The process is generally the same year-to-year. Are you getting closer to zeroing in on what you want to do Thursday night?
Larry Bird: Yeah I think there is going to be three to four players that I really like in our range. I think that two of them will get there and there is always somebody that slides in the draft. So, we’re ready to go and I really believe that we are going to get a good player.
Boyle: So you’ve had some good workouts and you’ve gotten to see what you need to see. The thing I’m curious about though with the process is this, you have scouts that are out and about all year long. You generally speaking just see these guys for a workout although you will get out from time to time. Do you defer to them if you have a difference of opinion? Do you have confidence in your own judgment to the point that you would overrule a scout that has seen more then you have?
Bird: Well what I do is that I do a lot of tape. I watch close to 500-600 games a year. I don’t get out that much but I read the reports and go by what they tell me. They gather all the information and give it to me. We get all the background checks and I get all the information and I go through it all. When it comes to time to pick a player we talk about it. But when you have about five or six guys that are scouts they all have a different opinion. So I eventually have to make the final choice.
Boyle: What exactly are you looking for?
Bird: As a player?
Boyle: Just in general, what kind of person? What kind of player are you looking to add here? Are you looking for a specific position? Are you looking for a good basketball player? What are you looking for?
Bird: I like to take the best player available that fits in with our team and our community. A kid that we think that is going to get better. Really the position don’t mean too much to me because we need help in every area. I want to get a kid that I think can play right away because now we are in a situation where we do have some money for free agency and then I can plug my holes elsewhere. I’ll probably take the best player that I think is available.
Boyle: When you read about the draft guys who are paid to know these things for a living, not necessarily basketball people but writers, commentators, the general consensus is that it appears to be not a very strong draft. Would you agree with that?
Bird: Well I mean if you got a top ten pick then maybe not but from eleven on it’s basically the same type of players. I look at this draft like there is a lot of good solid players in it. There’s not really a superstar that is going to come right in and make a big difference. But when you get from eleven on to twenty five somebody is going to get a good player.
Boyle: The week leading up to the draft is not always just about the draft. It’s about player movement; there are generally a lot of trades made, sometimes significant player movement. Do anticipate that being the case this week?
Bird: Yeah there is a lot of talk about different players moving. We have had some discussions. Teams want some of our players, our young players, they want to package you know draft choices with players for some of our players. I want to keep the core group together. The only way that I’ll make a deal is if I know that we will get better right away because we sit here for three years to get into this position. If we can make ourselves better through a trade then we will do that but I like our core group and I just want to add to it.
Boyle: The climate will change and there will be a new collective bargaining agreement at some point. Do you get the sense that that’s affecting some of the ways that teams do business right now?
Bird: I don’t think so. Everybody just goes about their business and what they have to do on draft night.
Boyle: Tell us a little bit about draft night. We know that there is a “war room”, you’re in there with your scouts, and the owner is in there. Is there a lot of dialogue? Does the owner get involved? What happens on draft night?
Bird: Well we usually do all of that before we go down to the room. We’ll bring the scouts in one at a time and go through and put some names on the board then go through and rank them and talk about them. That way then you can get them away from the rest of the scouts and they open up a little bit more and really tell you how they feel. Because when you have seven, eight, nine guys in a room then everybody’s got a different opinion and you try to argue for your player but if you don’t have any support. So Thursday will be a big day and once we get to the room down there then there will be a lot of calls. In this league, teams like to wait until the last second to try to pull a deal. If I were to go in right now and chose a player, I know out of 2 of the 4 guys that I like that 1 of them will be there.
Boyle: How do you know that?
Bird: Well you talk around the league. You know what teams needs are, I just know, I’ve been around a long time, I know. I could probably tell you the four players.
Boyle: Please feel free. Who are they?
Bird: I like two of them. You know we’re just not looking for a point guard or a center. So it’s a little bit easier this year because it doesn’t matter what the position is. If he’s a good kid and a good player then we’ll take him.
Boyle: Did the way the team competed in the playoffs anyway change your view of the core group?
Bird: No. I know that we have to add to it. I think some players are 25-28 minute players. I like to get better players in certain positions. My whole goal here is to have the best bench in the league. I think if we can do that and have a good starting unit then we’re going to win a lot games. I think that the bench is very important in this league. You’ve got to have ten guys that you know you can rely on every single night.
Boyle: These four guys that you’re talking about. You have a definitive pecking order there? Have you decided the way that you like them in order?
Bird: Yes and also depends on if a guy is going to be taken 7th and slides to 15th then he moves up in the pecking order. He might not be one of your four but he is probably a better player then those four guys.
Boyle: Is there likely the chance that that might happen?
Boyle: Who would that be?
Bird: A player
Boyle: Laughs. You’re not going to tell me anything are you?
Bird: Well I can’t because that is just not how it works Mark.
Boyle: Alright, so the draft is on Thursday. We’re looking forward to that and you can follow it all on Pacers.com. We have a live Pacers crate with Conrad Brunner coming at 7 o’clock Thursday night. As always, this is the place to get your Pacer information, not just up to the draft but beyond. So thanks for checking in. Larry, I know your busy thanks for the time.
Bird: Thank you Mark.
Boyle: Stick with us on Pacers.com