Notes from Pacers Media Day 2022
Key takeaways and quotes from the team as they begin the 2022-23 season this week.
A new Pacers season got underway Monday at the St. Vincent Center. Players and coaches were on the court, but this time it was for the cameras.
Each season begins with a media day, a time for local reporters to talk with the head coach and players, plus a productive day to capture content that you’ll see all season.
Like headshots, photos for the web and social media, snapshots for promotions months down the road, video for the team introduction and much more. That’s why there were over 20 media members there, plus photographers at individual stations.
(I also want to note that it was the first one in 37 years without longtime PR director David Benner, who retired after last season, and the second one without my pal, Frank McGrath.)
It all began around 10 a.m. and ran through the afternoon. Some stuff was captured at the practice facility while other stuff was completed across the street at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Each player visits a few dozen stations and is navigated by a team employee.
The team’s branding for this season is “Revved Up.” Pacers FanJam is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9.
This is my 11th season covering the team and the first time when the playoffs are not an expectation or even being talked about. That’s because, at last, the team pivoted and is now all-in on a rebuild.
It’s never ideal, but it is necessary here in Indy. And so team owner Herb Simon finally signed off on it about nine months ago.
You’ll see a roster full of athletes who are motivated to compete and win. It skews younger and features many players that simply need game reps. There’s many guards, too many bigs and a lack of depth on the wing. That can be corrected over the next year.
The Pacers have valuable players on good contracts that they could trade and cap space to take back players and picks, of course.
But for now, it’s the start of the new season. So everyone is in a good mood and excited for the possibilities.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” head coach Rick Carlisle said entering his second season back in Indy. “Summer has gone by pretty fast. A successful summer with summer league and developmental stuff with our guys. We’ve had the majority of our guys in for most of the month and that’s been a very positive thing as well.
“I’m really looking forward to this. This is an official new era of Pacers basketball and it certainly is a direction of youth, a direction of going all-in on a group of guys that are young, talented, of extremely high character and tremendous upside.”
18 players under contract (teams can have up to 20 in camp)
14 players with guaranteed contracts
One of two two-way slots filled, by Kendall Brown
James Johnson and Langston Galloway likely competing for the Positive Veteran Influence role
Don’t expect for Daniel Theis to be with the team past the trade deadline
Three of five starting spots are guaranteed: Haliburton, Smith and Turner
The age gap…
Three rookies | Four second-year players | 12 players with three seasons or less | SEVEN players born in the 2000s
Playing with his home country of Georgia in EuroBasket, Goga Bitadze rolled an ankle in their first game against Belgium, which negatively impacted his experience. He says he feels healthy, but it still bothers him when doing different things. He’s underwent scans and the team will be cautious with him.
Deividas Sirvydis suffered an ankle injury last week in a pick-up games and will not be available right away. He was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Jalen Smith tweaked his ankle last Friday, but is now full-go.
Daniel Theis was sent home from media day on Monday with symptoms despite testing negative for Covid multiple times. He needs another negative Covid test to return, which is expected on Wednesday.
We didn’t get to talk with every player on Monday, but the core of the roster did meet with reporters, along with coach. Notes and key quotes are below.
He plans to spend twice as much time on defense compared to offense in training camp. The defense was atrocious to end last season — injuries and lack of player availability was a big factor — and they struggled mightily without Myles Turner as the anchor.
What will be considered a successful season for this young, rebuilding team? A lot of it will come down to the eye test, he said. It’s not about wins, player averages or specific analytics. They want to see growth from players and the team each month.
He talked often with Myles Turner in the offseason, attended several of his offseason workouts and even had him over to his Dallas home for dinner.
“Myles is a pro and Myles has made it clear to me that he’s excited about being here. He’s excited about playing with a pass-first starting point guard like Tyrese and that’s where we are right now.”
Carlisle expects to use at least a 10-man rotation. “We’re going to use our depth as an advantage, we’re going to use it as something to drive our development internally every day.”