Bird pushed to sign Andrew Bynum in midseason despite not having doctors examine his knees and despite the Pacers' research (including the canvassing of acquaintances in Cleveland) producing numerous red flags, sources said. Bird followed the Bynum signing by trading longtime team member Danny Granger for Evan Turner at the deadline.
Granger's prescience as a team leader was a little overblown on the outside, sources said, because he largely had grown apart from the team during his bouts of knee injuries during the past two seasons. Granger, sources said, also had grown wary of playing in the same rotation with Stephenson, which prevented him from getting as many touches as he preferred. However, with the team struggling with its first significant chemistry issues since coming together, the decisions backfired badly. Neither deal worked out, and in Bynum's case, he appears to have had a negative effect on Hibbert and his sometimes delicate outlook on games.
In the two games Bynum played, he was a featured part of the offense, getting 22 shots in 36 total minutes. This season, Hibbert averaged just 11 shots per 36 minutes he played. Turner is a player who has had limited success in his career, but mostly when he has dominated the ball. With George, Hill and Stephenson, there was little room for that type of play from Turner. Vogel briefly tried Turner at backup point guard when C.J. Watson got hurt, but that didn't work either.
No executive has a Midas touch and Bird's hot streak ran out this year, including his decision to sign Chris Copeland to a $6 million deal, only to watch him sit on the bench all season. That happens. But messing midseason with a team he knew to be fragile had far-reaching effects.