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Bird will stay in Indiana, Donnie next?

DONNIE WALSH LOW: It hasn’t been an easy

DONNIE WALSH

LOW: It hasn’t been an easy season for Walsh who has had to deal with medical issues and constant rumors that Isiah Thomas is the general manager in waiting. Walsh has had to answer questions about his future and expiring contract while trying to guide the Knicks to the playoffs.
Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

 The Indiana Pacers today announced that Larry Bird will remain as the team's president. Bird had been contemplating his future and late in the season admitted he was having second-thoughts about continuing his career as an NBA executive.

In a statement released by the Pacers, Bird said that "the past few months have been the most enjoyable" of his tenure in Indiana, with the young team clinching the eighth seed in the East and losing in five games -- though putting up a good fight in each game --to the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.

Will Bird's decision now lead to a conclusion in Donnie Walsh's situation with the Knicks? It is hard to prove any correlation between the two, but there is the obvious connection between Walsh and the Pacers, the team he ran for over two decades, and, of course Indiana, where his wife and family still reside.

Walsh has vehemently denied he had a return to the Pacers in mind -- in April he said, "I'm angry about that because there's absolutely no truth in that. I've never talked to [Pacers owner] Herb Simon or anybody else about it, so to me, it's just something that somebody else made up. I don't know where they're getting it from." -- but if Bird decided not to return, it wouldn't have been a surprise if Simon had reached out to Walsh. Simon basically gave full control of the Pacers to Walsh and also had him run major projects such as the construction of Conseco Fieldhouse (Walsh asked the architect to make a lobby that resembled old Madison Square Garden) and the creation of Indiana's WNBA team.

According to multiple sources, Walsh has a multi-year extension offer from Garden executive chairman James Dolan on the table and the longtime NBA executive is believed to be considering all options, including retirement. But those close to Walsh feel he, even at 70 years old, is still very much motivated to stay in the game and finish the mission he started in New York. 

Despite his unsettled status for next season -- his contract expires on June 30 -- Walsh continues to work, the focus now is on the NBA Draft and the No. 17 pick, as if he'll be back next season (and beyond). 

 

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