(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - Indiana Pacers Chief Executive Officer Donnie Walsh says he will not return to the franchise when his contract runs out at the end of this season.
Walsh has been with the Pacers since 1984 when he joined the team as an assistant coach. He handed over day-to-day involvement with basketball operations to Team President Larry Bird last summer.
Walsh became the Pacers' general manager in 1986 and was elevated to President of Pacers Sports and Entertainment in 1988. In that time, he turned the Pacers into a model franchise culminating with the teams' appearance in the 2000 NBA Finals.
The franchise took a notable downward turn in the aftermath of the November, 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Indiana made the playoffs despite losing all-star forward Ron Artest for the remainder of the 2004-2005 season with Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson serving lengthy suspensions.
The Pacers also lost the face of the franchise at the end of that season when Reggie Miller retired. Since that time, the club's win total has dropped each year, as has attendance. The Pacers currently rank last in the NBA in attendance.
Bird will take over many of Walsh's current duties and will be the sole decision maker in the front office.
Walsh reportedly has talked to New York Knicks Owner James Dolan about taking over that team should Knicks President Isiah Thomas be fired. The Milwaukee Bucks are also reportedly interested in acquiring Walsh's services.
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