Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Pacers Notes: NBA following NFL's lead in staying relevant all year
Rookies choose new numbers, schedule for Las Vegas set, Mathurin and Nwora return home, Turner thrives overseas and more.
I can’t help but roll my eyes and laugh when I frequently get asked, ‘So… what do you do in the offseason?’
Ummm… what offseason?
The NBA has followed the NFL’s lead in making it nearly a 365-day sport. While there may not be games every day, there’s always something…. From training camp to the preseason to the regular season and a midseason tournament starting next year, then to the playoffs, draft, free agency and right into summer league.
August is the slowest time, but even then you have the schedule release for both the preseason and regular season. Players host individual camps, like Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner in Indy this year, and we also have FIBA World Cup action.
The NBA has essentially removed the “off” in offseason. That only refers to when games aren’t being played.
Speaking with a longtime agent this week, he mentioned his desire for free agency to be pushed back from June 30 to until after July 4 so folks in and around the league can actually enjoy the Fourth of July holiday.
I’d go a step further and consider pushing back the draft another week, to the final Thursday in June, so we have another week to highlight the champions and have real discussions about the draft.
It would also be in consideration for front office personnel who are trying to both soak in the NBA finals experience while also prepping for the draft.
One more thing: I would make the draft a two-night event.
Leading into this weekend, teams are now working on their free agent targets. Most of the work is already done, but each transaction in the league has an impact on the future. Like the inflated trade prices because of Minnesota and Rudy Gobert last offseason. And after Utah agreed to acquire John Collins from Atlanta, there’s now one less team with as much spending power on forwards on the free-agent market.
That’s the Pacers’ need, another 3-and-D player. Length and athleticism is always at a premium. We’ll get into that more this week in my Pacers offseason guide, along with more stories on their draft picks.
Until then, catch up on what’s been happening on and around the team. Like Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe agreeing to join the Pacers on a two-way deal. He was the top rebounder in college the past two years and has a fascinating story. I highly recommend you watch his full pre-draft interview.
Did you catch me co-hosting on ESPN 107.5 The Fan on Monday afternoon? If not, you can listen back to the podcast. (Highly recommend 2x speed. IYKYK.)
1️⃣ | 2️⃣6️⃣New Numbers For Rookies
It’ll be No. 1 for Jarace Walker, the No. 8 pick. And No. 26 for Ben Sheppard.
Both will be new numbers for the players because the number they wore in college was taken. For Walker, it was 25 — owned by Jalen Smith.
And for Sheppard, it was 22 — worn by Isaiah Jackson. With 26, it’s a daily reminder of where he was drafted.
📅Summer League Schedule Out
Right on cue, the NBA announced the schedule for summer league the day after the draft. As you would expect, they wanted to wait until the draft is held so they can set up the juiciest matchups.
And they delivered on Night 1: Friday, July 7.
Trail Blazers (Scoot Henderson) against Rockets (Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore) at 7:00 p.m. ET, followed by Hornets (Brandon Miller) against Spurs (Victor Wembanyama) at 9:00 p.m. Both games will air nationally on ESPN.
Most top picks don’t play in more than two or three games. We’ll be lucky if Wemby, who has been playing overseas throughout the pre-draft process, plays in multiple games.
It all begins for the Pacers on the following day, Saturday, and then they play every other day. All 76 summer league games from inside Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion will be televised (and streamed on the ESPN and NBA apps).
Every team will play at least five games.
7/8 v Wizards at 8pm ET (ESPN2)
7/10 v Magic at 8:30pm (NBA TV)
7/12 v Thunder at 7:30pm (NBA TV)
7/14 v Mavericks at 6:30pm (NBA TV)
As usual, I will be in Las Vegas to provide subscribers with full coverage.
🇨🇦Mathurin in Montreal
Bennedict Mathurin — no longer a rookie! — has kept active this offseason. He attended both of the team’s optional weeks of workouts. He was in Denver for the start of the NBA finals as a correspondent.
And he spent this past weekend back home in Montreal.
Mathurin was one of three players, along with OKC’s Lu Dort and Toronto’s Chris Boucher, to serve as coaches at Basketball Without Borders Americas for the top boys and girls high school basketball players from across Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.
This had to be extra special for Mathurin because 1) he’s a product of the BWB Americas camp himself, 2) it was back home in Montreal and 3) it was with childhood friend Lu Dort. I wrote about their friendship a couple months ago.
“We’re really close, that’s really my brother,” Dort told me. “We got a lot of stuff planned for this summer and I just can’t wait to see him again.”
On top of that, Mathurin’s sister Jennifer, a former player at NC State, also helped out.
🏆Jordan Nwora’s High School Jersey Retired
Speaking of going home, Nwora was as well this past weekend.
Jordan, a 2016 graduate, and his sister Ronni, a 2019 graduate, both were honored by having their their high school jersey retired.
This all went down inside the gym at The Park School of Buffalo in New York.
Nwora, who wore No. 33 in high school, scored 1,057 career points. And his sister topped him — and just barely, with 1,105.
🇮🇹Myles Turner Concludes Trip of a Lifetime
Myles has been livin’. No doubt about that.
He’s returning home after two weeks in Italy. He began in Milan for an exclusive event through the NBPA with business leaders, made his way through Italy, to Florence and then over to the Amalfi Coast.
Best of all, he did so with his younger sister.
He shared the following thought on Twitter. (No idea why he capitalized the first letter in each word.)
“If There’s One Take Away I Have From Fashion Week It’s That All My Athletes Should Tap In… The Hands You Shake, The Geniuses Who Surround You, And The Rooms You Gain Access To Could Potentially Be Career Changing! S/o NBPA For Expanding My Mind And Making It Happen!
“It’s More Than Simply just Playing Dress Up, The Creative Expression And The Details That Go Into Each And Every Fit/Show Is Mind Boggling!”
Familiar Faces in New Places
Three former Pacers coaches have new teams. Frank Vogel, after sitting out this past season, is the new Suns head coach. And he brought former Pacers intern Dru Anthrop from the Lakers with him. Again.
Also, Dan Burke joined Monty Williams’ staff in Detroit after three seasons in Philly.
Lastly…. I’m sure you missed this because it was announced one day before the draft.