Pacers Summer League 2023: Schedule, roster and a new head coach
Camp opens July 1, their first game in Las Vegas is a week later and then they'll play every other day.
The Indiana Pacers’ last game was back on April 9th. And so after 13 weeks, the wait is about over.
The Pacers’ entry into the Las Vegas Summer League will open camp on Saturday, July 1, then head out west a week later for the NBA’s annual convention.
The roster features 14 players, including:
All four 2023 draft picks: Jarace Walker, Ben Sheppard, Mojave King and Isaiah Wong
Both selections in 2022: Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard
And one of their picks in 2021: Isaiah Jackson
Just because a player is on the roster, doesn’t guarantee that he will play in Vegas.
Chris Duarte is not listed. My understanding is that he’s planning to play with the Dominican Republic this summer.
With Jackson, this serves two purposes. It’s a confidence builder and an opportunity to get reps with the new guys. He was impactful previously at summer league.
I know we’re all looking forward to seeing what a lineup of Nembhard, Sheppard, Mathurin, Walker and Jackson looks like. Or even how Jackson plays alongside Walker.
Why Mathurin & Nembard? Those two can’t get enough basketball. What else would they be doing this summer? This allows for them 1) get productive practice time, 2) work closely with the coaching staff, both in Indy and in Las Vegas and 3) get to know the new guys on and off the court.
Before the roster came out, I didn’t expect for Walker, the No. 8 pick, to play more than three games in Vegas before being shut down. I could see Jackson, Mathurin and Nembhard playing in a game or two — but that’s it, if at all.
But for them to practice in Indy and then join the team in Vegas? That’s huge. That’s what you want to see from your young guys.
The one obvious player not mentioned is second-round forward Jermaine Samuels. The Villanova product does so many smart and productive things on the court. And he finished the G League season strong with the Mad Ants.
Rick Carlisle clearly took a liking to him during the 2022 pre-draft process and the team brought him back for a second visit. And after Samuels went undrafted, they quickly signed him to an Exhibit 10 deal so he could be with the team for training camp and then join the Mad Ants. And he’s been around the practice facility this offseason.
Samuels is being impacted by a roster crunch. It’s a numbers game. And without an pathway to a two-way contract, it didn’t make sense for him to be with the Pacers in summer league.
For most of these players, it’s not just about performing well to impress their team. Watching closely are coaches and scouts from all 30 NBA teams, along with evaluators from the G League and overseas.
The Head Coach: JP
Assistant coach for player development Jannero Pargo will have the opportunity to coach this group, so this will be different. And fun to observe.
He’s 43, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s still playing every day at the facility. It’s difficult to keep him off the court. When he’s working with the players, he’s frequently playing against them. And he’s challenging them.
That was absolutely the case over the last month during draft workouts. He was a big weapon for the front office. (More on that soon.)
He’s a smart, hard-working coach who loves the game and is beloved by players.
Pargo is also a former player, first for the Lakers and then many other teams. He also played in The Big3 as recently as last summer.
After retiring from playing in 2017, he worked for the Windy City Bulls and Trail Blazers before joining Carlisle's staff in 2021.
Summer Pacers Schedule
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.
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.