For two decades, Donnie Walsh worked in the Indiana Pacers front office. Walsh first served as general manager of the team, then moved on to become CEO and president of the organization, before being succeeded in that position by Larry Bird following the 2007-08 season. During Walsh’s tenure in the Indiana front office, the Pacers made the NBA Playoffs in 16 of 17 straight seasons. With Indiana making changes during the off-season, the door seems to be open once again for Donnie Walsh to return to work for Indiana’s pro basketball team. The questions is, what will Walsh bring to the team this time around, and in what capacity?
Shortly after leaving Indiana in ’08, Walsh was hired to become the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, who had a well-publicised rivalry for Walsh and the Pacers during the 1990’s. Walsh was brought to New York to help clean up a multitude of overwhelming long-term contracts on the team, which had left the Knicks in financial shambles following the tumultuous tenure of Isiah Thomas as team president. Walsh quickly cut $27 million from New York’s budget, helping the Knicks to sign Amare Stoudemire, and to also make the trade that brought Carmelo Anthonyto the Knicks. Walsh resigned from his position with the Knicks in 2011.
Even though Bird has not made a definitive decision on his future with the Pacers, there are positive expectations that he will return to the team next season. Bringing Walsh in as a consultant (or even again as general manager) could help this organization make the right moves in Thursday’s NBA Draft and in free agency, to possibly once again bring Indiana back in NBA title contention year after year.