Jim O’Brien fired as Pacers head coach – Frank Vogel named interim head coach

After much deliberation the Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Jim O’Brien. Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird met with O’Brien Sunday morning and discussed the direction of the team.

“I want to thank him for his three and a half years of service,” Larry Bird said in a 4 pm press conference. “He is going to be missed but we move on. Our players understand we’re trying to do all we can to get back on the right track. Hopefully we can move forward, win some ball games and get back into playoff contention.”

Assistant coach Frank Vogel will take over as interim head coach.

Coach Jim O’Brien coached the Pacers for just over three and a half seasons and did not produce a winning record. The team has lost seven of their last eight games and 21 of their last 29.

This coaching situation boiled over last week after the team returned from a four game west coast trip without a win. Indiana should have came away with at least a pair of wins on the road trip. The opponents were very beatable including the Clippers, Warriors, Trailblazers. Denver, the final stop was the exception.

“I was on the West Coast trip and Mr. Simon was out there. I told him at the time I feel comfortable with Jimmy moving forward. We were in the first three games and not close at Denver. Then when we returned home against Orlando. We were out of the game after the first three minutes…I called Mr. Simon up and he said whatever you want to do.”

Last, O’Brien’s frustration came out in the fourth quarter of the Pacers 110-89 loss at Chicago. He received two technical fouls and was ejected. What a way to close your career with a team.

Prior to accepting the job in 2007, O’Brien understood this was a rebuilding project but he needed to produce results. Players have been held back, expectations have not been met, and fans have lost interest.

If the season ended today, at 17-27, the Pacers would miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year. Pacers fans haven’t seen a winning record since the 2004-05 season when Indy went 44-38 in Rick Carlisle’s second year as head coach.

Vogel, 37, is taking his first head coaching position. This is his 14th season in the NBA, and on has been on the bench for eight. He was previously an advance scout for the Los Angeles Lakers (2005-06) and Washington Wizards (2006-07). He was with O’Brien as an assistant coach in Philadelphia and Boston. Vogel got his start in the NBA as the head video coordinator under Rick Pitino in Boston from 1997-2001.

“We’ve been looking at everything with our team, from the beginning of the season and now at the halfway mark and I think at this time a change is necessary,” said Bird. “This isn’t all on Jim. All of us share in the responsibility for where we’re at and where we need to go…I think Frank will do a great job of handling our young players and we can see what we got.”

Bird also reiterated that the Pacers have the most money this offseason. The team gets over $30 million off their books once the 2010-11 season is over. However because of the lack of free-agent talent, Bird said he was already in serious discussions with multiple teams about possible trades.

Frank Vogel won over the fans when he spoke at the press conference. He was confident, enthusiastic, and straight forward. He told it like it is and fully expects to make the playoffs. He said changes were definitely going to be made, “you’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

Here is O’Brien’s year-by-year record with the Pacers.

2007-08: 36-46
2008-09: 36-46
2009-10: 32-50
2010-11: 17-27 (44 gms)
TOTALS: 121-169
2 Responses to Jim O’Brien fired as Pacers head coach – Frank Vogel named interim head coach
  1. Greg
    January 31, 2011 | 12:18 am

    Jim O Brien knows basketball. When Utah had tough years was Jerry Sloan fired. I am surprised Larry Bird fired Mr O’Brien. Jim O’ Brien is a class person that will be an asset to another team.

  2. Area55
    January 31, 2011 | 2:54 am

    JOB held this team back from its potential. Vogel is right, this team will be much better in charge. He is a players coach and will listen to their input. His substitution patterns were ridiculous.

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