Get to know the newest Pacer, veteran guard Langston Galloway
"I just love playing," he said. "I think a lot of people write me off every single day. I got a lot left in the tank."
For more than two years, the Pacers have been seeking a reliable veteran player who could help with accountability and holding the locker room together while also being able to play, as needed.
As the Pacers tried to re-tool on the fly last season and now while undergoing a full rebuild, the front office considers its options for that role — what’s often known as The Udonis Haslem Role. He’s entering his 20th year with the Miami Heat.
First, the Pacers signed 35-year-old forward James Johnson, who has been in the NBA since 2009 and is now on his 10th different team. He has familiarity with head coach Rick Carlisle from two years ago when he was acquired in Dallas as part of a trade package. Johnson spent last season with Brooklyn.
READ MORE: 1-on-1 with James Johnson
Next, they added 30-year-old guard Langston Galloway. He spent most of last season in the G League with College Park, Atlanta’s affiliate, but he also had brief call-ups with Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
“He’s playing well,” Carlisle said during week 1 of training camp. “You got to remember, the reason we got this guy here is because of what he’s proven that he is in the league over an eight-year period. And also with Team USA. He’s been one of their key players in the qualification windows.
“He’s a great example of what a veteran player should be — and what a young player should be: Great habits, here early, on top of everything, knows exactly what’s going on, encourages guys, all that stuff. He’s doing a good job.”
Like Carlisle referenced, Galloway had the unique opportunity to play for USA Basketball during three qualifying windows. Because it happens during the NBA season, USAB has selected mostly G League players to fill that roster coached by former Pacers assistant Jim Boylen.
Boylen, who lives in Indianapolis, has attended every day of camp with the Pacers. Sitting at the corner of one of the courts, Galloway typically visits with him after each practice. Boylen was not made available to talk about one of his players, so I then called College Park head coach Steve Gansey, who coached Galloway for most of last season.
And I’m glad I called when I did. He had just boarded the Hawks’ charter flight bound for their preseason Global Games trip to Abu Dhabi on Friday.
“First of all, he’s just a great human being,” Gansey said. “One of the best professionals I’ve been around, on and off the court. The guy is very respectful, will listen, will do exactly what he is told. It was really a pleasure to coach him this past year.
“He was great with our young guys — and everybody — because they saw him work on a daily basis. He led by example, but he also used his voice. It was like basically having another coach on staff. It was awesome to have him.”
Some veteran players wouldn’t even consider playing in the G League after a half-dozen years in the NBA. Both Isaiah Thomas and Lance Stephenson did last year and it paid off, eventually signing for the rest of the season.
Galloway, however, was fine with it. He wanted to keep playing. He appeared in 24 games with the Skyhawks and averaged 16.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while playing almost 33 minutes per game.
Gansey said there were countless times when Galloway worked closely with young guys. (That’s most of the roster, by the way.) He singled out Sharife (Cooper), a 2021 second-round pick. At practice and at shootaround, Gansey always paired those two together so Cooper could see “what a seven-year pro looked like and how he approached it.”
Gansey also recalls how they were 1-9 when Galloway joined the roster. “He was like, ‘Coach, we’re turning this thing around.’ I love it,” Gansey said. “That was the first thing he said to me. He was like, ‘I want to be with you guys and we’re going to turn this thing around.’ Man, he was right. He was a huge part of it.”
The team that started 0-8 then finished the season on an 11-game win streak.
“One thing I love about him is he plays with pace. He does everything hard,” Gansey continued, gushing with praise. “There’s no shortcuts with him. He does everything the right way, never complains and sometimes he’ll get on himself, but he’s always trying to lift other guys. He was an awesome pro for us.”
Like Johnson, Galloway signed a non-guarantee deal to join the Pacers in camp. The Pacers are thinking long-term and having at least one vet on the team is worthwhile — and necessary.
As a result of their young, inexperienced roster, there’s a lot more teaching going on behind the scenes and in training camp compared to previous ones. Being able to contribute in games is a bonus.
To learn more about Galloway, read what he had to say in our convention below.
What is your motivation to keep playing?
I just love playing. I think a lot of people write me off every single day. I got a lot left in the tank. I just continue to work every single day, continue to get better and continue to prove myself. I have a lot left in the tank going into Year 9 and I just want to continue to prove myself and prove the doubters wrong.
What was your experience like with Steve Gansey (former Mad Ants head coach) last season at College Park in the G League?
It was really good. I enjoyed that experience. It kind of gave me the opportunity to understand where the league is headed, but also, too, building my confidence, building my leadership role from the perspective of how can I get better and how can I make the guys around me get better? It really showcased toward the end of the season as we won 11 straight games and I know it’s the G League, but still, you go out there and any given day a team could give you their best shot and beat you. For us to make 11 straight wins going into the playoffs was a big accomplishment, especially for that organization.