INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Pacers coach Frank Vogel is already resigned to making one change next season: Finding a replacement for associate coach Brian Shaw.
Less than 48 hours after being ousted by Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Vogel told reporters he'd like to keep as many faces around from this year's team as possible. He is virtually certain Shaw will get a head coaching job this summer.
"I'm not really sure how they try to replace him," Vogel said Wednesday. "But I do have the anticipation that we will have to replace him and if we don't, then there are some poor decisions being made out there because I believe he'll be one of the great coaches in this league."
Speculation is running rampant that Shaw could soon be hired as head coach of the Nets or Clippers. Shaw also has been rumored to be in the mix in Detroit and Philadelphia.
Vogel is convinced at least one of those teams will make an offer to Shaw, a former Celtics player who won three championships with the Lakers before winning two more titles with L.A. as an assistant to coach Phil Jackson. With Indiana, he played a key role in the development of young players such as Paul George and Lance Stephenson and developed close relationships with a number of other players.
Donnie Walsh, the president of basketball operations, asked Shaw to wait until after the Pacers were eliminated to start interviewing. That happened Monday night when the Pacers were routed 99-76 at Miami.
The knock is that Shaw has never been a head coach, something Vogel expected to change last summer.
This time, though, Vogel is so convinced Shaw will get his big break, he's already contemplating the search for a replacement.
"I'll have to do a lot of research," Vogel said when asked whether he has a short list. "We'll do that as a team with Donnie and (general manager) Kevin Pritchard."
Clearly, that won't be the only change heading into next fall.
While Vogel acknowledges the Pacers need to reduce their turnovers and continue their steady improvement, he believes most of that will come from the experience of spending another summer working out. He'd also like to incorporate some zone defense into the Pacers repertoire, a group that led the league in defensive field goal percentage, defensive 3-point field goal percentage and rebounding and was second in scoring defense last season.
And he expects injured forward Danny Granger to come back next season, too.
Granger missed all but five games this season with a bad left knee and eventually had surgery in early April to remove scar tissue from his patella tendon. But he expects to be healthy for training camp and back in the starting lineup after leading the Pacers in scoring for five consecutive seasons.
"I told him (Granger) that if he returns to full health and he plays like he has , he'll be the starter," Vogel said. "I also challenged Lance Stephenson not to let that happen."
But the Pacers could still use some upgrades.
While Vogel did not detail which areas he wants to improve, he acknowledged he'd like more consistent play from the bench.
First, the Pacers must re-sign free agent power forward David West.
"That's a big part of it because he's a huge, huge, huge part of our culture and our success," Vogel said. "He wants to come back and we want him back."
And if the Pacers can keep this core group intact, then perhaps their goal of winning an NBA title next season might not be so far-fetched - regardless of Shaw's job prospects.
"One of my messages to each player today was that each year over the last three years was that our preseason expectations increased each year," Vogel said. "After the first year, we lost to Chicago, our goal was to get home-court advantage. This year, it was let's shoot for a championship. I don't think next year it will be the same sort of dream mentality."