Posts Tagged ‘Donnie Walsh’

Protected Picks Wring Out Some Sizzle From Trade Deadline Day

Indiana decision-makers Donnie Walsh (left) and Kevin Pritchard (Ron Hoskins/NBAE)

Indiana decision-makers Donnie Walsh (left) and Kevin Pritchard (Ron Hoskins/NBAE)

Trade deadline day in the NBA isn’t what it used to be, for a variety of reasons. The 2014 Draft has loomed large over this season, making teams leery of doing anything – trading a potentially valuable pick, improving their way out of the right combination of lottery balls – that might get between them and a franchise-altering prospect. New luxury-tax penalties have made teams loathe to cross the tax threshold for what might be a couple months’ impact. And looming free agency argues against a rent-a-player move.

Well, here’s another reason: the protected first-round pick.

Time was, a traded first-round pick was just that – traded. It got packaged up immediately in the deal, designed for whatever year applied. If it was for the very next draft, great. If it was for two or three years hence, that was fine, too. Everyone, including the team’s fans, knew the trade’s price and the payoff.

Now consider the way draft picks are dealt in the NBA of 2014. When the Chicago Bulls in early January surrendered to Luol Deng‘s impending free agency, compounded by their dashed ambitions in the wake of Derrick Rose‘s second season-ending knee injury, they shipped Deng to Cleveland. The headlines billed it as “Deng to Cavs for Bynum, three future picks.”

The devil, as they say, was in the details. Two of the picks sent to the Bulls in the deal will be second-rounders from Portland (2015, 2016). And the first-rounder they acquired, which began as Sacramento’s, could shrink all the way down to nothing thanks to the qualifiers attached to it: This year, the pick belongs to Chicago only if the Kings are poised to draft at No. 13 or later (they’re 18-36 at the moment, tied for the league’s fourth-worst record).

It is protected in 2015, 2016 and 2017 through No. 10, which is to say, if Sacramento isn’t at least vying for a playoff berth over the next three years, it still won’t have to cough up the pick. And if that’s the case, it becomes a 2017 second-round pick – but with protection for Nos. 56-60. If that kicks in, then the obligation is extinguished entirely.

Even the right to swap draft slots with the Cavs in 2015, a sweetener in the Deng deal, is protected through the lottery. As for center Andrew Bynum, he was involved merely to shed his $6 million salary off both teams’ caps; Chicago cut him the next day before a contract guarantee kicked in.

A half-season of Deng, in other words, potentially was traded for two second-round picks. That’s a lot less sexy and headline-grabbing than the deal originally appeared. And that has sapped some of the excitement from NBA trades, period, including deadline day.

What happened to cause this? Three little letters: C. Y. A.

“We all did it, I think, the minute the lottery came in,” said Indiana’s Donnie Walsh, a consultant to Larry Bird after a long career running the Pacers’ and Knicks’ front offices. “With the lottery, you could end up [losing] the first pick in the draft. Nobody wants to have that happen. You’d look like a fool.”

Or you’d look like the Clippers, who as recently as 2011 sent an unprotected first-round to Cleveland in a multi-player deal designed primarily to shed guard Baron Davis‘ $28 million contract obligations. Two months later, that pick bounced up to No. 1 in the lottery and became All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving. Neil Olshey, the Clippers’ GM at the time, works in Portland these days.

“So the lottery started it,” Walsh said, “and then it got more regimented from there. Because there were, what, seven teams in the lottery at first, then 11 in the lottery. Every time it got bigger, more teams tried to protect whatever it was, on that one chance they could lose something really good.”

For the folks who run NBA teams, it is a form of buying on credit. It is insurance for those who cut the dramatic deals that can dictate a team’s success or failure for a decade.

Sometimes protecting a pick and having its eventual payout hang over the franchise for several years – during which local media can remind fans of a bad trade again and again – can be worse than taking one’s medicine quickly and moving on. Voila!

“Sometimes you put that in the deal,” Walsh said. “Teams will put something in there where, you don’t have to give it but you can make them take it.”

Having what starts out as a glamorous first-round pick shrivel down to drab second-rounds or even vanish entirely might seem like bad business. But Walsh saw the pragmatic side of that. “If you’re looking to get rid of money and you have to wait three years to find out you got some seconds, so be it,” he said. “You’ve got time to make up for it.”

Protecting first-round picks rivals Congress for the way it kicks a potentially unpleasant can down the road.  Why give up a pick sooner when it can be conveyed later, presumably on someone else’s watch?

“I don’t think you think it out like that, because I don’t think you think you’re ever gonna get fired,” Walsh said, laughing before a recent Pacers home game. “But you want to push it down the road, yeah.

“You hope that you’ll be good by then and it won’t really hurt you. You figure, if it doesn’t work, I won’t be here. But if I am here, I don’t want to have to pay this off.”

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, Although The Cash Can Be


VIDEO: Al Harrington gets the steal and finishes with razzle-dazzle

Al Harrington has been paid more than $86 million in his 16 NBA seasons, peaking at $10 million in 2009-10 with the New York Knicks. So from that perspective, it’s hard to second-guess the career that – across seven difference franchises and eight stops – set up Harrington and his family for life, probably for generations to come.

Then again, if Harrington is the one doing the second-guessing, it’s hard to, uh, third-guess that.

Harrington, a preps-to-pros guy who went to Indiana as the 25th pick in the 1998 Draft, spoke recently – and candidly – the other day with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com:

“It’s amazing how fast it went by,” Harrington said before Friday’s game. “I swear, I was just in (the Pacers’) locker room. Everything between then and now is just a blur. The seven years here, I can remember all of that. But from there to here, what the hell happened?”

What happened is that Harrington unwittingly traded seeming stability in Indianapolis for a journeyman’s career that sent him criss-crossing the country in search of what he voluntarily gave up. … Seemingly destined for a reserve role for seasons to come, he asked team president Donnie Walsh for a trade.

To this day, it’s his greatest regret.

Hoping for a trade to Cleveland, where he could have played with LeBron James, Harrington instead wound up in Atlanta. It was the first of his four trades, to go with his free-agent signing with Denver in 2010 and, in August, getting waived for the first time. After Orlando cut him loose, Harrington was picked up 10 days later by Washington. But he has played sparingly due to soreness in the right knee that limited him to 10 games for the Magic in 2012-13.

Between the injury limitations and the Wizards’ stop in Indianapolis for the Thanksgiving holiday – he invited the whole team to his parents’ home there for dinner – Harrington was sounding a little nostalgic.

It’s worth noting that, having played in 25 playoff games by age 24 with the Pacers, Harrington – due to the quality of his teams and injury issues – has appeared in only 23 the past nine seasons. Indiana has played 54 postseason games since Harrington first asked out, and that includes a 2007-2010 drought he might have helped them avoid.

That only fueled the what-if’s in his interview with Montieth:

“It’s one of those things, you don’t know how good you got it until you’re gone,” he said. “This is a consistent organization that always did everything the right way. You kind of take those things for granted. But I didn’t know.

“I tell people all the time, I could have been a lifetime Pacer. I think I had enough people here who liked me, I could have been like Jeff Foster. But I wanted to test my wings and see if they could fly.”

Harrington shouldn’t be too hard on himself. The whole seeking-fame-and-fortune thing is part of what the NBA is about, and if a promising backup isn’t pushing for a starter’s role and salary – think James Harden – then he might not max out his potential as player either. It’s not like he left any championship rings on the table in Indianapolis, either.

As for the money part, Harrington has always found a solid marketplace for his skills and size (6-foot-9) that allowed him to play anywhere on the front line. That has translated to about $36 million more than Foster earned in his 13-year career, all with Indiana.

‘Elite’ Pacers Ready To Rumble



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When coach Frank Vogel was thumping his chest about his Indiana Pacers this time a year ago, swearing to anyone that would listen that they would compete with the best of the best, most of us thought he was getting a little ahead of himself.

Sure, the Pacers were a solid young team, most likely a playoff regular for the foreseeable future. Perhaps they were even a team capable of contending in the Eastern Conference a few years down the line. But an elite outfit?

Not everyone was convinced. And lingering injury issues, namely Danny Granger‘s, kept them off of the 2012-13 preseason short list of championship contenders.

They’re in the middle of that mix heading into this season and eager to prove their elite status coming off of a season that ended in a Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat, sans Granger, in the Eastern Conference finals. Vogel, as confident as they come, doesn’t seem so crazy now. The Pacers belong on that short list this season, right behind the LeBron James-and Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat and right there with (and arguably ahead of) the Derrick Rose-and Joakim Noah-led Chicago Bulls.

“We’ve added a few more players with experience and our core group of eight or nine guys have improved,” said Granger, who is returning to the mix after playing five games in 2012-13. “We’re going to be a forced to be reckoned with honestly. As long as everybody stays healthy and everything … we’ve got a good team.”

When you can count four current or former All-Stars (Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West) amongst your ranks, not to mention quality additions like two-time former Spanish League MVP and veteran power forward Luis Scola, there is good reason for a collective confidence that borders on cockiness.

“We feel like we’re finally getting a little recognition, like we’re getting respected. We’re feeling elite now,” George said. “We always were a team on the outside looking in and now the tables have turned a little bit.”

That twist comes with some extra responsibility that was previously not a part of the equation for Vogel’s crew. It’s more than just raised expectations, it’s more like the pressure of incumbency. When you play deep into the playoffs in consecutive seasons, losing to the eventual champions in both instances, you know exactly where you stand.

“That’s why we have to be that team that’s ready every night.” George said. “We have to be that team that comes out and plays consistent every night, because teams are going to be gunning for us every night.”

Teams will do the same thing to the Pacers this season that they did to the Heat, Bulls and Boston Celtics while Vogel was pushing his team to claw their way up the league’s food chain.

The biggest difference this time around, though, is that there is a belief that the difference between the Heat and the teams chasing them in the East isn’t nearly as great as it was perhaps two seasons ago. The Pacers took note when James said last week that there is “tension” but the Heat have no rivalries in the Eastern Conference and when Rose suggested it would be a couple of years before the two Central Division teams could actually be considered true rivals.

“I think it’s wide open, a free-for-all in the East right now,” George said. “Remember we were just one game away. Had we done things better [in that Game 7], we might have won that series and gotten to The Finals. Who knows what happens? But we feel like it’s up for grabs. There is no clear-cut champion right now in this league or in the East. We just have to come out and prove it. Kick the rankings and all the talk aside and let our play do the talking. We just have to come out and do us.”

The Heat are obviously loaded for a three-peat … and most NBA GM’s think they’ll pull it off. Rose’s return means a Bulls team that was as dangerous as anyone in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season will likely be elite again. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks loom as potential contenders, too.

But Vogel remains fixated on his team, their potential and the same things he saw in them a year ago. He sidestepped the rivalry talk between his crew and the Heat or Bulls, insisting, and rightfully so, that the Pacers just want to beat everyone in their path.

His concentration is on the continued fortification of the Pacers’ belief in themselves and the fact that they belong, on the things he saw in them early on in his tenure that led him to boast a bit — even before his team got in on the act.

“I like the number of two-way players we have, guys that are solid on both ends of the court,” he said. “I like our depth, I like our talent. Just look at our first five. I think George Hill could be an All-Star level point guard. Paul George has been an All-Star. Roy Hibbert has been an All-Star. David West has been an All-Star. Danny has been an All-Star. I think Lance Stephenson has the ability to be that level of player some day. I like our talent and how the pieces fit.”

And he’s a true believer.

“Belief is a critical element in success,” Vogel said. “Each of the last few years they’ve believed a little bit more and a little bit more that they can be a truly great team. And hopefully, that belief is as great as it’s been since I’ve been and we can have a great season.”

George Is A Perfect Fit For Pacers





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Paul George‘s birth certificate confirms what everyone already knows: he’s a Southern California native through and through, something the Indiana Pacers’ young star is extremely proud of. But he couldn’t be more of a Hoosier if he tried.

From his relentless work ethic to his off-court sensibilities (fishing over, say, celebrity party hopping), George is the ideal face of the franchise in Indianapolis, where the excitement and expectations surrounding George and the Pacers for this season are already off the charts.

That’s what makes the reported $90-plus million extension George and the Pacers are closing in on prior to the start of training camp the biggest no-brainer to date. George couldn’t have found a better fit — an up-and-coming franchise for an up-and-coming superstar — and the Pacers couldn’t have found a better ambassador for what should be their most promising team in a decade.

Pacers president Larry Bird told Pacers.com that the deal isn’t done yet, but expects it to be soon:

When asked whether the reported terms were accurate, Bird said, “I never heard that number. I wish it was my number instead of [Paul's].

Although a new deal isn’t complete just yet and George hasn’t signed on the dotted line, everything is expected to be resolved this week.

“I know Paul’s worth,” said Bird. “I’m not banking on what’s going to happen in the future, even though you do somewhat. It’s what he’s accomplished now and that what we’ll go off of.

“It’s always good to have the leverage but the number has got to be a number we both like. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about money. Yes, he wants to be here. He’s told me that a million times. We want him here so let’s just find a number that works for both.”

Bird, a Hall of Famer, completely understands George’s mindset.

“Well back when I played, if they brought me in and was talking to me, I wanted to get it done before camp,” he said. “So I know it’s important. Security is always the best thing to have in this league.”

With a new contract, there’s more to it than just the length and value of the deal. There’s all the legal items, player or team options, and more that goes into it.

“If you come to the number first, then all the other things sorta fall in place.”

I lived in Indianapolis and covered the team the last time the Pacers entered a season with a budding young superstar (Jermaine O’Neal), a deep roster and championship ambitions. Things are going to get even crazier for George at home than he probably realizes. O’Neal was a fabulous player then, and like George, was a somewhat underrated talent coming into the Draft. He outworked and eventually outplayed that profile and blossomed into an All-Star with the Pacers. The same is true for George.

A city and state that loves its basketball like no other has embraced George in ways it never did O’Neal, who led the Pacers to the best record in the league during the 2003-04 season. Pacers fans always seemed a bit indifferent to O’Neal, who had the misfortune of having to assume leading the team while Reggie Miller was still the franchise’s true face and Ron Artest was in the midst of his most tumultuous time with the franchise. Pacers fans don’t appear to have any such reservations where George is concerned.

They saw as George went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the Miami Heat during Indiana’s run to the Eastern Conference finals last season. They saw George shine on the biggest and brightest stage alongside David West, Roy Hibbert and the rest of a rugged Pacers team that pushed the Heat to a Game 7.

They know that they have the genuine article in George, whose meteoric rise in three seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. His impact on this team last season, while Danny Granger was sidelined with injury, is well documented (courtesy of my main man and numbers guru John Schuhmann of NBA.com).

It’s a testament to the work Bird (as well as Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard) have done in rebuilding the franchise that George is stiff-arming the free agent process (and the lure of his hometown Los Angeles Lakers) that so many of his contemporaries would chase if they were in his shoes.

The best part for the Pacers is that they’ll have George locked up for what should be the prime of a superstar career. George is a true two-way player (not every All-Star plays defense as well as they do offense) on the short list that is headlined by James.

George is far from a finished product, another huge positive for the Pacers, and he understands that. He talked about it repeatedly in July during his time with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and their mini-camp. How he and Granger co-exist will go a long way in determining just how successful a season the Pacers can put together.

But those are issues Pacers coach Frank Vogel and his staff will gladly sort through with George as the centerpiece of a team that should compete at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

In fact, none of those lingering issues seem terribly unsettling when you’ve got a perfect fit between a franchise and the (new and) true face of said franchise.

Bird Returning To The Pacers



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – One year away from the game was apparently all Hall of Famer Larry Bird could take. The former Boston Celtics star and Indiana Pacers coach and executive is returning to his Indiana roots once again and rejoining the Pacers’ front office.

The Pacers announced Wednesday afternoon that Bird is rejoining the franchise as president, giving the Pacers a front office “Big 3″ of sorts with Donnie Walsh , who will move into his role as a consultant, and general manager Kevin Pritchard already in place.

“We are all very happy to have Larry back,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said in statement released by the team. “When he left last July, Donnie and I both told him the door would be open for him to come back when he’s ready. Larry had a huge impact on this team and where it is now so it’s fitting that he comes back at this time. Donnie has been a friend and a valuable contributor to the franchise and will continue to be both. I wanted him to agree to stay in some capacity as I believe with Larry and Kevin, it gives us three of the best basketball minds in the business.”

The Pacers that Bird built during his previous stint as president, which culminated in NBA Executive of the Year honors in 2012, pushed the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals this season. Bird is responsible for youngsters like All-Star Paul George and Lance Stephenson being in the Pacers’ fold alongside veterans like David West, George Hill and All-Star Roy Hibbert, not to mention coach Frank Vogel.

Bird took the Pacers to The Finals during his stint as coach, from 1997-2000. He left after that Finals trip in 2000 but returned in 2003 to work alongside Walsh in the front office as president. Walsh returned to replace Bird this past season and now they will team up again with Pritchard in a significant role as well.

Bird cited health reasons for his departure at the end of last year. He had been the Pacers’ president of basketball operations from 2003-12. The year off, however, served him well.

“The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues and it re-charged me,” Bird said in that statement. “Donnie and Kevin did a great job and I will lean on both heavily as we move forward toward the goal of competing for a championship.”

Reggie Miller’s Front Office Options?




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For a man whose name is synonymous with a franchise, city and state, it should come as no surprise that there are rumblings about Reggie Miller one day returning to help run the Indiana Pacers.

Miller’s headed to Springfield for a glorious weekend that will include his being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. But there will be no shortage of chatter about the TNT analyst’s future and whether or not it might one day include a return to Indianapolis and the Pacers.

There couldn’t be a more a natural fit, from this perspective.

Miller embodies everything the Pacers stood for during the height of the franchise’s NBA glory years. His return would be more than just symbolic, though, as Miller has proved himself to be not only an ambassador for the Pacers, Indiana and the game itself, but also an astute observer of the global growth of the game over the past three decades.

Our main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star has already broached the subject with both sides and it doesn’t sound like anyone is ready to do anything right now, but a potential reunion no doubt seems to be a hot topic for all involved:

“I never close any doors,” Miller said. “I listen to everything. (Owner) Herb Simon and I have had this conversation before. So yes, if something presented itself, I would definitely look at it and go from there.”

The Pacers have been led by either Donnie Walsh or Larry Bird for nearly the past 30 years.

Walsh returned for his second stint with the organization, replacing Bird as president, in June. Bird is taking at least the next year off. The 71-year-old Walsh hasn’t put a timetable on how long he will remain in his current capacity.

“I’m always interested,” Simon said. “Reggie would be a wonderful person to have in this franchise.”

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Pacers Stick To Underwhelming Deals

Few in the executive offices around the NBA command more respect than Donnie Walsh. Likewise, few GMs from generation-next created more buzz than Kevin Pritchard, both when he got hired and unceremoniously dumped in Portland.

But trusting in the wisdom of the men making the deals isn’t the same thing as trusting one’s own eyes when assessing personnel moves. That’s why the Indiana Pacers’ latest maneuvers triggered so much head-scratching among the team’s fans and here at Sekou’s Hang Time hideout.

Darren Collison, a legitimate starting point guard but one who finished last season coming off the Pacers bench, is gone. So is wing defender Dahntay Jones, reserve scorer Leandro Barbosa and off-the-bench big Louis Amundson. They’ve been replaced by D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Ian Mahinmi and rookie center Miles Plumlee – well, replaced might not be the best word, so let’s say their roster spots have been taken by those newcomers.

Doesn’t seem like much, as judged here at HTH. Not even a push, never mind an upgrade to the Pacers’ roster. And that’s what Indiana was hoping for, wasn’t it, a surgical move or two to vault it into close-second status in the Eastern Conference this season behind the Miami Heat?

Beat-writer extraordinaire Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star tried to explain the moves to a fan base growing increasingly restless:

Fans don’t like what they’ve seen so far. Some already want Walsh to retire and Pritchard to go somewhere else.

Have the moves been flashy? Not even close.

Are the moves good enough to catch Miami in the Eastern Conference? Not as long as the Heat have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

But it’s all about progression for the Pacers.

They had no choice but to trade point guard Darren Collison…

Wells then explains that Collison, though he said he would be willing to continue as George Hill’s backup, really wasn’t happy in that role. Well, that shouldn’t have bothered the Pacers one bit – would they prefer a backup who doesn’t burn to start? Even then, Collison figured to have trade value in excess of Mahinmi – that deal withDallasseemed to gift the point guard and Jones to the Mavericks. Augustin doesn’t have nearly the juice, and can leave next summer as a free agent anyway.

Moving out some of the other players while trusting the latest mature version of Green, compared to all his previous incarnations, might not be the most sound decision either.

There’s a tendency to rely on Walsh and Pritchard, based on the basketball bank accounts both have amassed in their careers. But for a team that had the Heat down 2-1 in their best-of-seven East semifinals, for a club that was thinking about an Eric Gordon signing as this offseason’s signature move – as well as retaining center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill – the Pacers’ approach of one step forward, maybe two back, is hard to embrace.

Hibbert Favoring Portland’s Max Offer



Free agent center Roy Hibbert is now leaning toward wanting to play with the Portland Trail Blazers next season, a day after the restricted free agent got a verbal commitment from the Blazers that they would tender a four-year, $58 million offer sheet to him, the maximum he can receive under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources confirmed Sunday.

Hibbert, acquired by the Indiana Pacers (from the Toronto Raptors) on Draft day in 2008, had long expressed his desire to remain with the team that traded for him and helped him develop into an All-Star last season. But the 25-year-old was apparently blown away by the presentation made Saturday in Washington, D.C., by the Blazers’ contingent, which included Portland’s new general manager, Neil Olshey.

The Pacers would still be able to match any offer for Hibbbert when the July moratorium expires, but teams generally work out deals for players who express a specific desire to be elsewhere once they become free agents.

The Pacers are still likely to match the offer, because Hibbert has become one of the league’s top centers and his skills as a passing big man are a rare commodity in the NBA these days. But a source indicated Sunday that the organization would have to take a look at the offer before making a definitive commitment.

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Bird Leaving Pacers … Walsh Returning





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Indiana Pacers’ continued return to prominence will go on without the man who served as the architect of the project.

Hall of Famer and reigning NBA Executive of the Year Larry Bird is leaving the organization, per Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, a move that opens the door for Bird’s predecessor and former boss, Donnie Walsh, to return to Indianapolis as the franchise’s new boss.

Unspecified health issues are reportedly among the reasons Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not stay on president of the team after meeting with Pacers owner Herb Simon today:

Bird, who is dealing with some health issues, will likely take a year off before deciding if he wants to return to any sort of front-office position.

His departure comes just three days after The Star reported that Bird’s predecessor, former CEO Donnie Walsh, is expected to return to the franchise in some capacity. There’s a possibility Walsh will take Bird’s title of president.

Simon always has respected Walsh, who spent 24 years with the Pacers before leaving to become president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks in 2008.

Walsh, who took last year off, attended several of the Pacers’ pre-draft workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Kevin Pritchard, the team’s current director of player personnel, will likely work with Walsh as the team’s new general manager. Bird pushed for Pritchard to become general manager, citing Pritchard’s basketball knowledge.

David Morway, who had been the Pacers’ general manager, is no longer employed by the franchise, according to a source.

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Say Hello To The Big Executive?





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – We can see it now: Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited”  blaring from the sound system and a suited and booted Shaquille O’Neal walking to the podium as he’s introduced as the Orlando Magic’s new general manager.

Don’t laugh. It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

An ESPN report that TNT’s O’Neal will speak with the Magic about the opening next week has NOT been confirmed by either side. But it hasn’t been scuttled by either side either … not yet, at least. O’Neal’s Inside colleague Charles Barkley confirmed Shaq’s interest it this morning on The Dan Patrick Show:

Dan asked Barkley if Shaquille O’Neal has told him he’s is interested in the Orlando GM job. “Yes,” Barkley said. “I do know he’s interested in the job and he’s going to interview for it.”

Barkley said O’Neal and Dwight Howard have had issues in the past, but that doesn’t mean Shaq can’t go to Orlando.

Barkley thinks Howard needs to make a decision and stay or go in Orlando. He’s sick of talking about it.

“They’re trying to do anything they can to keep Dwight there and get a buzz,” Barkley said. “They have to do something whether Dwight stays there or not. Bringing in Shaquille is an attention getter.”

This gives folks a license to let their imaginations run wild with images of O’Neal back in the city where his Hall of Fame playing career began, the same city he calls home. If Shaq is on the short list of people the Magic want to talk to about replacing Otis Smith, it is noteworthy. Especially considering the nature of his departure from the Magic in 1996 for the Los Angeles Lakers.

O’Neal hasn’t even finished his first year of retirement and already his name is popping up in a GM search. That’s impressive, no matter how it all transpired.

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