Larry Bird, as Indiana Pacers team president/AP
Larry Bird has decided to call it quits as president of the Indiana Pacers.
Bird is "100 percent sure" he will not return as president of the team, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Star on Monday.
Bird, 55, is expected to meet with owner Herb Simon today to finalize his departure.
Bird's departure will end what had become annual speculation about his future. He and Simon operated under a yearly handshake agreement because Bird was not interested in a long-term commitment.
Bird spoke like he was planning to return for another season during his season-ending news conference last month.
"(I want to talk to Simon about) the direction of the team, what kind of job he thinks we're doing, if there's anything he sees that we should be doing better," Bird said May 30. "Just a number of questions. I've got a lot of them written down to ask him, and hopefully we can get the answers we like and move on."
Bird, who is dealing with some health issues, will likely take a year off before deciding if he wants to return to any sort of front-office position.
His departure comes just three days after The Star reported that Bird's predecessor, former CEO Donnie Walsh, is expected to return to the franchise in some capacity. There's a possibility Walsh will take Bird's title of president.
Simon always has respected Walsh, who spent 24 years with the Pacers before leaving to become president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks in 2008.
Walsh, who took last year off, attended several of the Pacers' pre-draft workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Kevin Pritchard, the team's current director of player personnel, will likely work with Walsh as the team's new general manager. Bird pushed for Pritchard to become general manager, citing Pritchard's basketball knowledge.
David Morway, who had been the Pacers' general manager, is no longer employed by the franchise, according to a source.
Bird, who earned $1 million this year, is walking away less than two months after being named NBA Executive of the Year. He became the first person to be named Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year (1998/Pacers) and Most Valuable Player (three times with the Boston Celtics). Bird took complete control of basketball operations for the Pacers when Walsh left for New York. Bird said from the start that the Pacers had a three-year rebuilding plan.
He avoided making rash roster moves to get a quick fix. Instead, he dealt with losing and chemistry problems inside the locker room until the franchise obtained enough financial flexibility to improve the roster.
The Pacers made the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 2006.
They turned the corner this past season, finishing with the league's fifth-best record, beating Orlando in five games in the first round of the playoffs and taking a surprising 2-1 lead over eventual NBA champion Miami before losing in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Bird, who always has preferred to stay in the background, signed power forward David West to a two-year, $20 million deal during free agency. West brought steady leadership to a locker room that had dealt with maturity issues in the past.
The Pacers traded for Indianapolis native George Hill on draft night last summer and acquired guard Leandro Barbosa for a second round pick at the trade deadline in March.
Bird said he loved last year's team.
"There's no question about it," he said last month. "This is one of the best locker rooms we've had. The attitude has changed in the last few years, and it's been a breath of fresh air. These kids have come in here. They were dedicated. We didn't have any problems."