Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Myles Turner sidelined to end another season, Justin Anderson signed second 10-day, Nancy Leonard celebrated
On the Pacers' latest moves, a special award for an icon of the franchise, injury updates and more.
Myles Turner will finish a second straight season off the court and not in uniform due to injuries. That has been the expectation for about a month, they’re only now making it official.
The team made the announcement Monday afternoon before the Pacers’ 132-123 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s what team president Kevin Pritchard said.
“After numerous conversations with our medical team, Myles, and his representatives, it became clear to everyone that despite Myles’ continued progress and positive diagnosis, there simply is not enough time remaining in the season to properly and safely prepare him for the demanding workload associated with an NBA game. We will continue to work closely with Myles and we’re looking forward to his return to the court at full strength next season.”
He was shut down for the season with seven games left and 11 days after T.J. Warren was officially ruled out for the season. Warren is away from the team and rehabbing back home in Raleigh.
Turner, in his seventh season with the team, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot and hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 14. He led the NBA in total blocks and blocks per game, but has been in street clothes ever since.
He dealt with a painful turf toe injury last season that prevented him from playing over the final month.
“He’s one of the leaders of this team,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been a franchise loyalist for seven years and it’s been very difficult for him not to be out there. And this decision was based upon the amount of sand in the hourglass. It was better to make the decision, he was certainly involved in the decision.
“Could he have played a game or two at the end? Possibly, possibly yes. He’s pretty close. But at that point, with a back-to-back to end the season, what’s the point?”
Exactly. What’s the point?
For Myles, he’d have to ramp up for what, a game or two? Nope, not worth it.
That’s significant work and doesn't even include getting into game shape, which often takes up to a month. It’s a lost season for the Pacers; they’re just trying to get through the final two weeks. The worst thing would be for Turner (or another player) to have a setback going into an extended off period.
On top of that, Turner is in a contract year so the Pacers will have to decide whether to trade or extend him. This will also help clear his mind, from considering a potential return to now solely focus on next season.
Since he last played, the Pacers have reshaped the roster. They traded away Domantas Sabonis and added Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to the backcourt. It would have been ideal to see them play together this season, see how they read and react. Carlisle said they shared the court for about two practices, but that was it.
“He’ll fit well with those guys,” he said confidently. “He’d fit well with anybody. As the starting 5-man, I think he’s a special player. Particularly with his ability to protect the rim being something that is a one-of-a-kind skill and he’s the best at it. Five-men that can shoot the 3, can roll and finish, that can post up some and can protect the rim at his level are rare.”
Haliburton is 22 years young and is the team’s first true point guard in decades, going back to Jamaal Tinsley. The Pacers now look a lot different, play a lot different — and will probably take a new form for next year.
“They’ve had a ton of injuries all season long,” said Nate McMillan, the Hawks head coach who was with the Pacers for the last decade. “It really changed when Domas (Sabonis) was let go. I think he was a big part of this organization and when you let an All-Star like that go, you’re changing your strategy as far as going into the future.”
Spoken like the mature pro that he is, Haliburton didn’t sound too worried about learning each others’ game and tendencies. Good players make it work. And they desperately need help inside and on the defensive end, where they miss Turner the most.
“We’re both professionals and both basketball players so we’ll figure it out as we go,” he said. “If he was to be thrown in a game right now, I think we’d just have to figure each other out a little bit. So obviously him not playing sucks, but I have no doubt that we’ll link up in the summer or get in runs or whatever and going into next season, we’ll have figured it out.”
Justin Anderson Signed to Another 10-day Contract
His first standard 10-day contract expired on March 27 after playing in five games and the Pacers had a decision to make.
Carlisle has a longstanding relationship with Anderson and he appreciates his game and maturity. So bringing him back for a second 10-day deal made sense, and the uncertainty of player availability made it necessary.
Teams must have eight players active for a game to be played and the Pacers have been right at the number a few times over the last week due to injuries.
“He’s a good player and he’s an NBA player,” Carlisle said. “He earned the opportunity to come with us that second time.”
In six games this month, he’s averaged 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game — and in the starting lineup.
Nancy Leonard Celebrates Birthday
At a Pacers game on Monday, of course. Where else would she be? She’s a regular, in row 3 on the end behind the Pacers’ bench. She missed home games for a few weeks earlier this year due to a health scare, but she is frequently there supporting her team.
Leonard and close friends celebrated her 90th birthday in a suite at Monday’s game. And she was in for a special surprise as well.
She was presented with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, a distinguished honor given out by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Chief of Staff Earl Goode made the presentation, which was co-sponsored by the Pacers and the Dropping Dimes Foundation.
It is described as the “highest honor, which the Governor of Indiana bestows. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.”
Nancy, along with her late husband Slick, are icons of the franchise and helped save the Pacers.
There should be a statue of the two outside of Gainbridge Fieldhouse. My personal preference would be for it to be of them sitting together on a bench with space for a few others. Make it a photo opportunity for basketball fans and Leonard fans.
It’s the least that can be done to say thank you.
It may not be a requirement to cover injuries in every story, but it certainly seems that way. Especially when yet another Pacers season has been derailed by them.
Malcolm Brogdon has been a healthy scratch for the last 10 days, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s done for the year. He managed a sore right Achilles tendon all year and is now very comfortable with how he’s feeling. He appears to be healthy going into the offseason, so why push it?
Center Isaiah Jackson first had a concussion, then got a headache in his first game back. So he did not go on their two-game road trip and has sat out the last three games. “It’s possible he could play Wednesday, but I can’t say for sure right now,” said Carlisle. “But he’s doing better.”
Guard Duane Washington Jr. has sat out the last two games with a bruised right hip. “It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a long time,” Carlisle said. “He’s been very durable all year. He’s a guy that has played with aches and pains throughout the year. You don’t hit the floor the amount of times he hits the floor… He’s a hard-playing guy and the hip can be difficult because it’s also a joint. I expect him to bounce back pretty quick, I just don’t know exactly when.”
The team has NOT shut down guard T.J. McConnell for the season, though they should. He’s able to shoot again, first from 12 feet to now about 17 feet. That’s still inside the 3-point arc. He’s now a veteran, in the first year of a contract and they sure lack energy. Since the All-Star break, my understanding has been that he would not play again this season.
For the first time this season, the lights were … on … for Pacers introductions. I have since heard from a few people over at 125 S. Pennsylvania and here’s why.
There were issues with the lights before the game and if they turned them off, as usual, for team introductions, they feared that they wouldn’t come back on — or that there would be a delay, at the least.
Lastly, it was good to see Matt Asen courtside for a Pacers game again. He hasn’t been around as often. I think this was his first game of the season, but a lot has transpired in the last three seasons.
He’s a familiar face and a dedicated fan, who spends most of his time in Florida.