'Everything is earned' motto and Buddy Hield addressing his contract situation highlight Pacers media day 2023
Hield was his usual energetic, talkative self on Monday where the need for defense and accountability from each player was reiterated.
The parking lot was filled with cars, there was a fresh coat of paint on the practice floors and the surrounding walls at the St. Vincent Center had been updated. Monday was media day, which marks the official start of the next season.
Usually, the team’s annual golf outing serves as the unofficial start. However, the players were in Nashville last week for a four-day mini-camp on their own before starting up another season.
On Sunday, a week before their first preseason game, about half the roster was together at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Colts game against the Rams. They all wore custom Colts jerseys and rookie Jarace Walker had the honor of pounding the anvil before kickoff.
Offseason mode deactivated.
Now it’s go time.
With media day set to begin at 10 a.m. with the local media, it was no surprise to see Rick Carlisle, who’s beginning his third season as Pacers head coach, walk over and begin talking at exactly 10 a.m.
Just like his former Celtics teammate and Pacers boss Larry Bird, Carlisle was on time and ready to go. How you do anything is how you do everything. And it’s both appreciated and indicative of the winning culture the Pacers wish to re-establish.
Before answering questions, he had three points to cover.
1. Expressing his excitement for another season.
“Anticipate a highly, highly competitive camp,” he said. “We’ve spent two solid years really in a true development mode and we’re gonna keep an eye on development, but we’re looking to take competitive steps. It’s gonna be hard., this is the NBA. We had a meeting last night with the guys and told them to expect it to be hard and to embrace it being hard. For us to make strides, we’re gonna have to do it by doing a lot of the little things, we’re gonna have to do it in the margins, and we’re gonna have to be very, very together — like we were last year.”
2. Buddy Hield’s contract situation. (Click here for an explanation on the situation.)
“He and I talk virtually every day about something,” Carlisle said. “We’ve talked extensively about his situation. I know he’s gonna come in and compete. He’s a guy that has the unique ability to compartmentalize external things because of his love and focus on the game. He lives in the gym. It’s our hope that we can work out an agreement to have him here long-term, but if it doesn’t happen right away or whatever, that’s OK. He’s still gonna bring what he brings very uniquely to our situation. He’s a special guy and a guy I look forward to seeing every day.”
3. How game minutes will be allotted.
“That’s why we have training camp,” he continued. “Super competitive. A lot of depth on the roster. It’s gonna be real exciting to see how this plays out. The players, I believe, will decide a great deal of what’s gonna happen in terms of who’s starting, who’s playing, all those kinds of things. Whatever happens, we’ve got a great developmental system with Tom Hankins coaching our G League team. My hope is that our young guys will be ready to contribute and that we can find some opportunities for them to play — or that they flat-out earn minutes. If we get in a situation where those guys aren’t playing much, we have the G League.”
Carlisle noted that in this competitive setting, unselfishness and defensive impact are two key traits that will help break any ties. Offensively, he wants his players to play fast, as random as possible and move the ball unconditionally for the best shot.
“Players aren’t dumb,” he said. “Players know who’s going hard and who’s making the effort defensively. Those kind of things contribute a great deal to team chemistry.”
All players were present on Monday, including Hield. But there was never any question. He loves the game, wants to play and isn’t about to leave his teammates out to dry.
With a cup of coffee in his hand, he walked over to the interview station when we were hearing from Tyrese Haliburton. And he asked his “best friend” if he was going to play in the Olympics next summer.
“If asked, of course I would love to Buddy,” Haliburton said with an ornery smile. “I hope The Bahamas makes it as well.”
Hield answered back, “And we’re gonna bust that ass too.”
Yes, they picked up right where they left off.