Larry Bird is stepping down as president of the Indiana Pacers, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears has confirmed. General manager Kevin Pritchard will take over the team.

The news was first reported by The Vertical.

Among Bird’s biggest accomplishments with the team was drafting Danny Granger in 2005 and Paul George in 2010. The team also selected Kawhi Leonard in 2011 but traded his draft rights to the Spurs for George Hill.

Bird leaves the Pacers ahead of a pivotal summer in which the franchise will have to decide what to do with George. He can become a free agent after next season and there is wide speculation that he would prefer to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers will have to decide whether to try to persuade him to stay long term or trade him.

Pacers Since Larry Bird’s Return in 2013

The Pacers finished first in the East the year Larry Bird rejoined the team (2013-14 season), losing in six games to the Heat in the conference finals. Since then, the Pacers haven’t won a playoff series, and only three players remain (Lavoy Allen, Paul George and Lance Stephenson).

George has not hesitated to make known his displeasure with the direction of the franchise, setting up for what is sure to be a tense summer of talks and decisions that need to be made.

A reason for Bird’s departure has not been confirmed, but sources told ESPN’s Mike Wells that the plan had always been for Bird to strongly suggest to owner Herb Simon that Pritchard take over as president when Bird eventually stepped down. Bird’s preference over the years has been to have year-to-year contracts for himself.

Bird, 60, became head coach of the Pacers in 1997, winning Coach of the Year his first season. He resigned in 2000, but rejoined the team in 2003 as president of basketball operations. He won NBA Executive of the Year after the 2011-12 season, after the Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing to the Miami Heat in six games. He retired in 2012 but took only a year off. He came back to the team as president of basketball operations.

Larry Bird is stepping down as the Pacers’ president, a source confirms to ESPN. AP Photo/Michael Conroy
He is the only person in NBA history to be named MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

The Pacers have announced that Bird is scheduled to have an end-of-season news conference on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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