Jim O’Brien gets the boot

30 Jan

Jim O’Brien’s future as Pacers coach was in question heading into a four-game road trip, and team president Larry Bird didn’t get the answers he wanted.

Bird fired O’Brien on Sunday after the team squandered a promising start to the season by losing seven of its past eight games.

Bird had discussed the team’s coaching options with owner Herb Simon, saying he wanted to see how the team performed on a Western swing against the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State, Portland and Denver.

“We were in three of the games and the Denver game we didn’t really have a chance,” Bird said.

The Pacers returned to Indiana to play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, with O’Brien’s status tenuous. Orlando won 111-96 win, and Bird had seen enough.

Indiana hired O'Brien in May 2007

“We came home to Orlando, and really, the game was over in the first three minutes,” Bird said. “So that’s when I really started thinking that we really probably needed to do something. I called Mr. Simon up and he said, ‘whatever you want to do’ and so, here we are.”

The Pacers went 121-169 under O’Brien in a 3½ seasons and are 17-27 this season. O’Brien was ejected in his final game, a 110-89 loss to Chicago on Saturday.

Assistant coach Frank Vogel will take over for the rest of the season. He has been a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards, and served as an assistant coach for O’Brien in Philadelphia and Boston.

Bird was bothered by O’Brien’s refusal to give more minutes to the team’s young players. Bird said he’d like to see rookie Paul George play more, and he was frustrated with how little forward Tyler Hansbrough played early in the season. He felt that O’Brien’s public berating of center Roy Hibbert damaged the 7-foot-2 center’s confidence. Bird and Vogel agreed that Hibbert is an important piece of the team’s future.

Bird also said he would like to see rookie Lance Stephenson get onto the court. The second-round draft pick has not played this season.

Many fans criticized O’Brien because he constantly changed lineups, at times leaving players inactive, then suddenly making them starters and sometimes leaving players who were performing well on the bench for long stretches.

Vogel said continuity is important, but he’ll be careful.

“You want to have a steady rotation, but if you’re losing games, how do you stick with a steady rotation?” Vogel said. “We’re trying to find combinations that work, and you’ll see that play out over the next few weeks.”
Continue reading →

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: