What's next for Pacers?

April 16, 2008
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An announcement today that Indiana Pacers co-owner Herb Simon will become CEO and Jim Morris will be elevated to president has many sports marketers applauding, but at the same time asking "What's next?"

Several key questions persist. First, how much steam will Simon, 73, have to put into the rebuilding process and how visible will the somewhat reclusive shopping mall developer become in his new role? Second, what kind of leader will Morris be, and how will the man with more business contacts than anyone in central Indiana reach out to the team's corporate partners and fans?

In addition to the Simon and Morris announcements this afternoon, the Pacers also confirmed Larry Bird as the head of basketball operations and promoted Rick Fuson as the franchise's chief operating officer. Simon said he was "energized" by the changes, which were percipitated by Donnie Walsh's departure. Walsh is now president of the New York Knicks.

"If Herb is energized, that's a great thing," said David Morton, president of locally based Sunrise Sports Group. "Turning this operation around is going to take a whole lot of energy." Morton said while he thinks Simon might become a bit more visible, "He won't become Mark Cuban, high-fiving the players as they come off the court."

Morton said making players such as Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy more visible in the community is much more important than making Simon, who co-owns the team with his 81-year-old brother, Mel, the front man.

Milt Thompson, president of locally based Grand Slam Sports, thinks Morris will start shortly after the season ends tonight by streamlining the franchise's front office to shore up the team's sagging bottom line. "After that," Thompson said, "this team has to turn its attentions to media and community relations. They absolutely have to re-establish this team's bond with the community. There's no one more suited to doing that job than Jim Morris."

Morris has been invloved in this city's sports movement for more than three decades, has held positions within the Olympics movement, operated the city's water company and been deeply involved with the world hunger cause.

But is he the right man for this job? And what do you think the Pacers need to do next?
  • The Pacers need to bring back the best promotion guy they ever had.... Ray Compton.
  • It's time for Herb Simon and his hand-picked army to show us some serious something. The season ticket holders are losing patience. The clock is ticking now.
  • Bring back Reggie to the Front Office! Even if he doesn't know what he is doing, this community will then get behind the Pacers once again knowing that
  • What's next? The same thing that has been 'next' for that last 3-4 years. Trade Jermaine either for a replacement PF/C or for someone with an expiring contract. Get rid of Tinsley any way possible and draft a PG (DJ Augustin, Darren Collison, Ty Lawson). Daniels could be trade bait, Harrison as well.

    We have a decent core group if we make the proper additions/replacements. Granger, Dunleavy, Diogu, Williams, Foster are all keepers, although Williams needs to watch his step. If we add say a DJ Augustin (high character, high GPA, true point) and acquire a serviceable big man then a I think we will get back in that 4-7 range in the East. Keep making the proper adjustments and no reason we couldn't contend again in 4-5 years.
  • They may have to use one of their keepers as trade bait. If you want to attract bees, you better use some honey. To win the fans over, they better get someone in the marketing team who's sharp and not as long in the tooth as Herbie and J. Morris.

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