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Pacers notes entering 2021 summer league
Their opener will now be Monday. Included here is a list of former Pacers playing as well as those with ties to the state.
LAS VEGAS — Hello from the Sin City, where the average high is over 100 degrees, and feels more like 115. NBA Summer League got underway on Sunday for 14 teams, but not for the Pacers.
It was a false start for them.
More than six hours before they were scheduled to tip-off against the Wizards, the game was postponed after their opponent was dealing with the health and safety protocols. At least three players in it and several more away because of contact tracing meant the game wouldn’t be played.
So the team practiced instead. Soon after, they had another game added to the docket: Monday at 2 p.m. ET — that’s 11 a.m. local time — against the Knicks. It will air on NBA TV.
“Vegas has been energetic and our team is coming together,” said summer league head coach Mike Weinar. Like Rick Carlisle, he’s getting a fresh start in Indy after spending the previous 13 seasons in Dallas.
The biggest question facing the team, at the moment, is when will they finally get to see first-round pick Isaiah Jackson? He has not yet signed and therefore has not even practiced with the team. He’s able to be around his teammates and new coaches, but hasn’t taken the floor in his No. 23 jersey.
“We don’t have any idea on that,” Weinar said. “We’re in the wait-and-see-game. The rest of the team is prepared to play.”
And the players who make up the rest of the team all have something to play for. Chris Duarte, their pick at No. 13 in the draft, and Duane Washington Jr., who signed a two-way contract, are the only two players with guaranteed deals for the season. You could lump Oshae Brissett in with that bunch, though his contract is non-guaranteed.
This roster is a mix of players looking to return to the Pacers next season (Amida Brimah, Cassius Stanley), four players who played in the G League plus nine rookies.
And although Stanley played in the G League bubble and with the Pacers last season, his rookie year was anything but ordinary. No pre-draft workouts, summer league or traditional training camp. And that’s just the start.
“The most normal thing I’ve had is a summer in LA,” said Stanley, who split time between his hometown and Indy. “It’s semi-covid, but it’s still pretty normal.”
What’s been great for everyone already is being able to be around each other, to hang out (mostly) like normal times.
I’ve been in Las Vegas for less than a day and I’ve already ran into a dozen people I haven’t seen in over a year. There were members of the Hornets and Lakers nearby at dinner, plus a group from NBA broadcasting. Everywhere you go, there’s inevitably at least several tall guys and multiple teams represented.
More on that later this week.
Here’s their full roster for Las Vegas:
Not having Goga Bitadze is a real disappointment, but it’s even more difficult for Goga himself. Not only with him having to deal with the sudden loss of someone close to him, but he’s missing out on valuable experiences around the new coaching staff and against younger NBA competition.
He’s needed reps, here they are and unfortunately he’s not in Las Vegas with the Pacers. It’s unclear if he’ll make it back and be able to play.
Former Pacers on other teams
Brian Bowen II, Timberwolves
Rayshaun Hammonds, Raptors
Alize Johnson, Nets
Jalen Mecque, Thunder
Ben Moore, Grizzlies
Davon Reed, Nuggets
Joe Young, Wizards
Of local interest
Desmond Bane, Grizzlies
Trevon Bluiett, Cavaliers
Carsen Edwards, Celtics
Kyle Guy, Warriors
Aaron Henry, 76ers
John Konchar, Grizzlies
Romeo Langford, Celtics
Dakota Mathias, Jazz
Sean McDermott, Grizzlies
Juwan Morgan, Jazz
Trendon Watford, Trail Blazers
Calbert Cheaney and Tyler Marsh remain in their roles as assistant coaches for player development, as I’ve previously reported. The same is true for Maurice Baker, a player development and video assistant. Cheaney is serving as one of Weinar’s assistants this summer.
Dylan DeBusk is staying in his role as head video coordinator for the second consecutive season.
Jon Christopher (from Australia) will remain in his role as massage therapist. He was hired mid-season this past year, replacing Andre Mikhailau.
Rick Carlisle also brought with him Zach Chu from Dallas, the team announced after this story published. He’s joining on the Pacers as the manager of game strategy and analytics. He previously was an assistant coach for the Texas Legends in the G League and the Los Angeles Clippers.
A few more…
The Pacers worked with Spurs to create a trade exception, which can be valuable if used. With Doug McDermott departing anyway, they completed a sign-and-trade. The Spurs got McDermott, plus a 2023 protected second-round pick and the option to swap seconds in 2026. In return, the Pacers received a protected 2023 second from the Spurs.
Pacers newcomer Torrey Craig was in Indianapolis for a few days last week, and now he’s in Vegas. He has not yet signed his free-agent deal, $10 million over two years.
Myles Turner is also here. That’s one of the special things about these two weeks — you’ll see many veteran players come through to watch, support the young guys and work out with the assistance of the team staff.
Lance Stephenson is still seeking for an opportunity to return to the league. He was nearing a two-year deal to return to the Pacers in March 2020, according to league sources. But it was just as the pandemic set in and the season was postponed. Then, the NBA did not allow players who were overseas and out of the league that season to join a team in the Orlando bubble. Otherwise, it’s likely he would have just wrapped up two straight seasons back with the Pacers for the third time.