INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said the
team's players will shape up or play elsewhere next season.
The Pacers entered this season with championship aspirations,
but they traded an unhappy Ron Artest and dealt with numerous
injuries on their way to a 41-41 record and a first-round playoff
"It's up to Stephen to do the right thing. I don't like some of the things he did this year. If he's back here, which I expect him to be, there's going to be some changes. I don't like our fans booing our players, but some of the things Stephen was doing out on the court frustrated me. I was embarrassed at times."
Larry Bird, on Stephen Jackson
Bird said he likes the Pacers' talent and doesn't plan to make
major changes this summer. But he made it clear Wednesday he's done
dealing with bad attitudes, selfishness and laziness.
"They're the ones that have to make the changes," he said.
"If they can't make the changes, yes, we have to look to move
Bird said he expects to build around Jermaine O'Neal, despite
"Jermaine O'Neal is our best player on this team. Everybody on
this team knows Jermaine's our guy," Bird said. "I can't sit here
today and say we're going to pursue to trade Jermaine O'Neal.
There's not one time that we ever called anybody and said 'Hey, are
you interested in Jermaine O'Neal?'
"I don't know who out there you could trade Jermaine for and
get somebody better."
The Pacers also want to re-sign sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic,
who came from Sacramento in the trade for Artest. He averaged 19.5
points in 40 regular-season games but missed four of Indiana's six
playoff games, all losses to New Jersey.
"When I talked to Peja, he said he really likes it here and
tells me he'd like to be here," Bird said.
Those who do return will need to help the team work cohesively.
"I know that a lot of guys were frustrated," Bird said.
"There's a lot of things that happened in the locker room. I don't
think our chemistry is as good as it could have been."
Players were critical of the team's performance after the
series-ending Game 6 loss to New Jersey.
Bird didn't argue with Croshere's assessment and made
observations similar to Johnson's on Wednesday.
As for center play, he said David Harrison is a young, raw
talent who is improving, and Jeff Foster and Scot Pollard are hard
workers who through injuries missed a combined 55 regular-season
and four playoff games.
"That's frustration [from O'Neal]," Bird said. "I sort of
felt bad when I heard that for Jeff and Scotty and David. You have
those three guys healthy and playing, that's a pretty powerful unit
Stephen Jackson also has been considered possible trade bait,
but his return could depend on his attitude. He played in all but
one game and averaged 16.4 points this season, but Bird said
Jackson spent too much time jawing with officials and taking poor
"It's up to Stephen to do the right thing," Bird said. "I
don't like some of the things he did this year. If he's back here,
which I expect him to be, there's going to be some changes. I don't
like our fans booing our players, but some of the things Stephen
was doing out on the court frustrated me. I was embarrassed at
Bird said coach Rick Carlisle deserves some of the blame for the
team's lack of discipline and that Carlisle should expect more from
"I think with everything that happened last year, you could
probably look and say yes, he did lose the team at times," Bird
said. "But they're good guys and they know what to do to win
ballgames. He's a great coach, there's no question."