Pacers Notebook: Quarterfinal matchup set, Jalen Smith update, rookies get G League reps, Mark Cuban selling, updates on ex-Pacers
A loaded Pacers notebook full of news and updates on several fronts. Starting with the Pacers' next tournament game, plus Mark Cuban selling stake in the Mavs.
The Indiana Pacers won their group of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament a week ago and now they know what’s next. The opponent and date has been set.
At the conclusion of tournament games Tuesday night, the NBA announced the broadcast schedule. The Pacers were slated to play in the first-ever tournament game, and now they’ll be first to begin quarterfinal play.
The Pacers, winner of East Group A, will host the Boston Celtics on Monday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
“We drew a tough team,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after practice on Wednesday. “We understand the challenge there is gonna be significant, but it’s a great opportunity. And it’s a great opportunity to play a great team in front of our home crowd.”
The Knicks and Bucks were the other two teams to advance out of the Eastern Conference. The two losing teams will then play each other, which counts toward the regular season. (The Lakers, Kings, Pelicans and Suns moved on from the West.)
All Elite 8 games (and on) will be televised nationally, marking the Pacers’ first appearance of the season.
When the schedule came out in mid-August, the Pacers were slated to appear on national TV just once for the third consecutive year: at Boston on Jan. 30. That was going to be Tyrese Haliburton’s first time in four seasons appearing in a game on TNT. Now, it will be a month earlier.
It’s a non-exclusive telecast so Bally Sports Indiana, with the usual crew, will televise the game locally as well.
This is an unfortunate draw for the Pacers (9-7) because the Celtics (14-4) are arguably the best team in the NBA and they’re a bad matchup due to their strength on the wing.
The Pacers were throttled by the Celtics back on Nov. 1 in Boston, 155-104.
The Celtics are the favorite to win the tournament at +300, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Pacers have the seventh-best odds at +1300.
Already, all 14 Pacers players have earned a $50,000 bonus, part of the prize pool for the tournament. A quarterfinal win is worth another $50,000 — for a total of $100,000.
After playing 11 of their first 16 games at home, the Pacers now begin a road-heavy stretch. It begins in Miami with a weekend series — games on Thursday and Saturday. Then, they’ll return home for this quarterfinals game.
Jalen Smith Update
The Pacers’ backup center has been diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise and a left heel contusion, Carlisle said.
Smith will not make the trip to Miami so he’ll miss at least the next two games. That potentially opens up the first opportunity for rookie Oscar Tshiebwe. He’s a rebounding force who signed a two-way deal with the Pacers after going undrafted in June. He will be available, if needed.
Isaiah Jackson now figures to assume the backup role behind Myles Turner. He’s getting more regular minutes in recent weeks. He’s understanding of his role, thinking less and playing more confidently than before.
🇺🇸 Jim Boylen Honored
Pacers assistant coach Jim Boylen was named USA Basketball’s Coach of the Year for his work with the organization over the last few years.
Boylen served as head coach of Team USA’s men’s basketball team during six windows from Nov. 2021 to Feb. 2023 and led the team to quality for the 2023 World Cup, which was held over the summer.
The hardest part about it was the ever-changing rosters considering the qualifying windows took place during the NBA season. He coached 52 different players during that run, including former Pacers Langston Galloway, Brian Bowen II, Orlando Johnson — and Justin Anderson and Jordan Bell of the Mad Ants.
“He did it with free agents, G League players, guys that were castoffs from Europe and things like that,” Carlisle said. “It’s a pretty significant accomplishment so congratulations to him.”
Oh, and they weren’t treated to chartered flights and five-star hotels like the World Cup or Olympic Teams.
“Coach Boylen had the huge task of leading USA Basketball in all six windows of 2023 Men’s World Cup Qualifying and winning nine impressive games to earn a berth into the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup,” said USAB CEO Jim Tooley. “It was a tremendous commitment and effort from Jim and all the athletes and assistant coaches. Jim further assisted the 2023 Men’s World Cup preparations by coaching the USA Select Team.”
Boylen works closely with centers Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson before each game and he has a prominent voice on the defensive end.
He's a longtime assistant coach in the league, including a previous stint with the Pacers on Frank Vogel's staff from 2011-13. He has three NBA championships and served as Bulls head coach from 2018-20.
Even when he worked for other teams, Boylen has called Indianapolis home.
🤝 Mark Cuban Has a Deal
The former Indiana University student turned billionaire is up to something. First, he announced last week that the upcoming season of “Shark Tank” would be his last.
Then on Tuesday, news filtered out that he’s in the process of selling a majority stake of the Dallas Mavericks to Las Vegas billionaire Miriam Adelson on a ~$3.5 billion valuation.
What continues to be true: Cuban knows what he doesn’t know and is always willing to make a deal — at the right price. That’s why he’s arguably the most popular shark.
Fellow Substacker Marc Stein, a longtime NBA reporter, had it first and shared some unique details.
The uncommon structure of the agreement, mind you, figures to hold far greater appeal to Cuban than making a deal at a higher franchise valuation, since this deal appears uniquely poised to allow him — for the foreseeable future — to function with the same hands-on ownership style that he has employed for nearly 24 years.
A partnership with Las Vegas Sands Corp., furthermore, would bring significant real-estate and casino-gaming expertise to the Mavericks’ organization that he openly lacks and covets. Cuban, who turned 65 in July, has been saying for years that he hopes to someday build a new arena in Dallas with a casino attached — provided gambling is eventually legalized in Texas.
Rookies Join Mad Ants
Pacers 2023 first-round picks joined the Mad Ants on Tuesday for their second G League game of the season.
Since they’re out of the rotation with the Pacers, this is how they should be used to continue their development. And the Mad Ants playing home games at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis (rather than Fort Wayne) is a great weapon for the team.
Jarace Walker finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 26 minutes.
Ben Sheppard recorded 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes.
The Mad Ants — who went perfect at the foul line (16 for 16) handled the Windy City Bulls 131-97 for their fourth straight win. Warsaw native Kyle Mangas led the Mad Ants with a career-high 23 points off the bench.
🇩🇪 Daniel Theis Playing Again
The former Pacer signed with the LA Clippers, as expected, after reaching a buyout agreement with the team. He flew to Los Angeles and immediately entered the rotation.
He's playing about 15 minutes per game. In his second appearance, a win over San Antonio, he finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. And it was cool to see his former teammates react on Instagram to his productive performance.
The Clippers (7-9) have won four of their last six games after losing six straight before his arrival.
3️⃣ Doug McDermott to Have College Number Retired
Former Pacers sharpshooter Doug McDermott will be celebrated at his alma mater next month. Creighton plans to retire his No. 3 jersey before the Bluejays tipoff against Villanova on Dec. 20.
He becomes the sixth player at Creighton to have his uniform number retired.
McDermott, who was with the Pacers for three seasons (2018-21), was a four-year player at Creighton and the consensus national player of the year during his senior season (2014). It’s a rarity anymore that a player as good as McDermott stays in college for more than a few seasons.
🇱🇹 Sumner Heads Overseas
Edmond Sumner is heading overseas this week to continue his basketball career. The 27-year-old guard is joining BC Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, the club announced.
“New Journey but same goals! I just love to hoop,” Sumner tweeted. “Just excited to really get to bump
A fun connection to the team: Domantas Sabonis’ brother, Tautvydas, is an assistant coach on the staff.
Sumner played for the Brooklyn Nets last season and appeared in 53 games. He then joined the Charlotte Hornets for training camp and the preseason.
He was waived on Oct. 24 before opening night.
The Pacers traded up to 52 to select Sumner in the 2017 NBA Draft. He then spent four seasons in Indy.
My feature on Sumner from the 2022 offseason:
📖 In Case You Missed It:
📸 Colts Player Joins the Media — For One Night
Kenny Moore II of the Indianapolis Colts had some fun on his off day.
The Colts cornerback did not just attend the Pacers’ game on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he was also courtside. More specifically, he was sitting on the hardwood in a spot reserved for photographers.
Moore II enjoys photographer and it’s something he thought about getting into before his career in the NFL worked out. Before tip-off, Moore II sat in an IndyCar to serve as the honorary person to Rev It up as well.
“Absolutely loved the experience,” Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan passed along. “Wants to do it again.”
The Pacers gave him a media bib, which is required by the NBA for photographers sitting courtside, and they mic’d him up to capture the experience. The following video by the Pacers’ digital department captures him well in the moment.