Making the climb up the ladder
When Herb Simon asked Larry Bird to take over the franchise and Larry asked me to work with him, we sat down and evaluated the situation, the team and the direction we were going.
Based on much discussion and consideration, we came to the conclusion that we needed to start rebuilding the team and at the same time change the culture in the locker room.
In Danny Granger, we knew we had a guy to build around, so our focus has been to build a core of seven or eight players to grow with him. We believe we have made significant progress with the players on this year’s team. Hopefully, in 2011-12, when we have significant salary cap room, we will have the opportunity to add the final pieces to a championship contending team.
I often use the analogy that when we started this process, we had to climb a 10-step ladder. When we hired Jim O’Brien, Larry and I felt like we took two steps up the ladder because he brought us exactly what we were looking for.
Jim brought discipline and accountability to the locker room. He brought a work ethic to the franchise. Jim is a lunch-pail kind of guy. He goes to work every day and busts his tail. The players have seen that, respect him for that and understand that’s exactly what we expect from them, as well.
During the 2008 offseason after we made two trades and brought in seven players and created salary cap flexibility, we felt like we took another two steps up the ladder. This summer, we’ve brought in six new players as well as a new defensive mindset which we believe will take us up at least one more step.
When we look at where we are, We feel like we’re halfway up the ladder in the middle of this rebuilding process. We know we’re heading in the right direction and fully expect to put a very competitive team on the floor every night this season.
The toughest part of this process is having the patience to execute the plan while allowing the team to develop. The plan always sounds good. The execution’s a little tougher but we’re confident we’re well on our way toward the top of the ladder.