Pacers eyeing Brown, Adelman for coach

May 17, 2011

Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said interim coach Frank Vogel, Mike Brown and Rick Adelman are among candidates he wants to talk to about filling the head coaching position.

Bird said Vogel is the front-runner. He took over at midseason when the Pacers fired Jim O'Brien, finished the regular season with a 20-18 record and led the team to the playoffs.

But he made no guarantees.

''A lot of people out there feel like Frank's probably going to get the job, but it's a process,'' Bird said Tuesday. ''We want to do everything we can possibly do to get the right guy in.''

Brown, a former Pacers assistant, led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals and was NBA coach of the year in 2009.

''I like Mike,'' Bird said. ''Mike did an excellent job when he was here, a fantastic job in Cleveland. We have other guys in mind, also.''

Adelman was interviewed the last time the Pacers had an opening. He went 193-135 in four seasons with the Houston Rockets before leaving the team last month. He ranks eighth in NBA history in wins with a career record of 945-616.

''I'll probably make a call, just to see where he's at,'' Bird said. ''I hear the (Los Angeles) Lakers are interested in him. Rick's a very good coach. He's an easygoing guy that gets a lot out of his players.''

Bird said Adelman performed well in Houston even though Yao Ming, the team's star, was out of action for much of his tenure.

''I like Rick,'' Bird said. ''He had so many injuries down there, and he still won a lot of games.''

Bird said the 37-year-old Vogel proved he can lead a team.

''He was put in a tough position and he did well,'' Bird said. ''I saw some progress with our team. Especially when they made the playoffs, I think they did an excellent job of competing.''

No matter who takes over, expectations will be high. The Pacers made the playoffs last season after missing the postseason the previous four years. Now, with a good young nucleus and a lot of money available for free agency, Bird wants more than a first-round playoff exit.

''When you win 37 games, that's not success,'' Bird said. ''But you've got to look at your team and see where we're going and how much development we have out of our young guys. We are in a good position now, so we've got to take full advantage of it."