Since Magic Johnson took over the Los Angeles Lakers, a potential phone call between him and Larry Bird — who held the same position with the Indiana Pacers -- about Paul George felt like the next chapter in their incredible rivalry.
Evidently, Bird had different ideas.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Bird is stepping down as president, leaving current general manager Kevin Pritchard in charge of the organization moving forward.
As of yet, there are no details (such as whether this was his decision, or if he was forced to resign) about what brought on the decision to step down.
There were grumblings that George and Bird’s relationship had seriously frayed over the last two years. Did Bird see that as too much to overcome?
Did Bird want to trade George so as to get some return before he departed in free agency a year from now?
Did he want to hold onto the four-time all-star on the off chance that George recommits to winning a title in Indiana?
Could Bird have seen the writing on the wall and simply didn’t want to be the team president who goes in with so little leverage in a negotiation as he could this upcoming summer and into this year’s trade deadline?
Those details are sure to come out at some point, but as of yet, there’s no way of knowing. As that is the case, we can’t know what affect this might have on the Lakers’ pursuit of George.
Pritchard might not want his first move as team president to be trading away arguably the best all-around player the franchise has ever had right before he hits his prime. The flip-side to that, however, is that he definitely won’t want to be the team president in charge if and when George departs in free agency for nothing in a year.
The other factor here is Magic Johnson’s relationship with Bird. On one hand, the two were bitter rivals from their playing days and any negotiation between them might reignite that sentiment. On the other, both have said that they’ve moved on from that era and both have a job to do: doing whatever is best for their respective franchises.
Magic and Pritchard have no such personal history, which, again presents a double-edged sword. A clean slate is usually helpful when it comes to such crucial negotiations as they will take part in, but having a friendship such as Magic and Bird have couldn’t hurt, either.
For now, there isn’t much that can be done but wait for further details on Bird’s resignation. Once those come forth, the situation can be properly assessed and the impact this move might have on the Lakers’ pursuit of Paul George will have proper context.
Until then, all we can do is wish Larry Bird (loser of two George Hill trades) all the best on his future endeavors.