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Q&A with Larry Bird

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

July 9, 2013

ORLANDO – Since Larry Bird told Pacers owner Herb Simon that he would return as team president, he hasn’t been able to ease back into the position. The draft was the next day and free agency opened four days later on July 1 – the official start to his second stint leading the front office. Just a few days later, he’s in Orlando observing Summer League play.

Pacers.com spoke one-on-one with Bird on Tuesday. Since it’s still the July moratorium, he cannot discuss free agency and specific free agents, including those that have reportedly joined the team. Read his comments below:

Q and A with Larry Bird

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July 9, 2013 - Scott Agness talks with Pacers President Larry Bird during halftime of the Pacers-Celtics game at the Orlando Summer League.

How’s it been to be back in the fold of things?

“It is a grind but I had my time off. I’m refreshed and ready to go. We’ve got a lot to do this summer so hopefully we can get it done and when we start the season, we’ll have all of our players back and raring to go.”

How much have you been in contact with your players since you returned?

“I’ve texted them back and forth. They’re scattered all over the country. We have guys in and out of our practice facility throughout the week. I think it’s important to let them have their free time in the summer and then when we get going, I’m sure I’ll be talking to them almost every day.”

You obviously weren’t involved in the draft but what are your feelings on Solomon Hill, especially after seeing him up close for three games?

“If you watch Solomon, he makes almost all the right plays. He makes the pass when he needs to, drives it, and he can hit the open shot. We wouldn’t be afraid to put him in there right now and give him some minutes because he’s a pretty good rookie and by the All-Star break he’ll be a lot better.”

Do you like what you’ve seen with Miles Plumlee’s development?

“He’s improved quite a bit since last year when we were down here. He’s gotten a lot stronger. He pursues the ball a lot more than he did. He’s able to make some moves around the basket. I’m not the coach so I don’t know if he’ll play or not but I just know he’s gotten better. When we drafted him, we thought it would take two full years to get him where we wanted him to be.”

How did the signing of point guard Donald Sloan come about?

“He’s a good backup, third guard. They had him coming into our Summer League before I got here and obviously I didn’t have anything to do with the draft. We feel like we got a good team upstairs that are on the same page. We talk about a lot of players and we’re going to go after the players we think can make us better.”

Lastly, what do you think Vogel’s latest hire, Nate McMillan, will add to the team?

“He has over 900 games under his belt. You just don’t find that experience out there and he wanted to be here. I’m sure he had opportunities to do other things but it’s good to see Nate with us and it just makes it more special to be a Pacer now.”

Note: The following response came from Bird's conversation with a group of reporters about the Celtics' hiring of Brad Stevens.

Why is avoiding the luxury tax so important?

“Cause we can’t afford it. It’s like buying a used car and a new car. If you have the money to buy a used one, you better buy a used one. Our owner went out and did everything he could this year so we could be close to the tax. We just can’t fight the tax. It’s always going to be a disadvantage for us. … We’re always fighting an uphill battle with revenues, but that’s part of who we are. We do the best we can with what we have.”

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