Aaron Nesmith

Central Notes: LaVine, Donovan, Bey, Nesmith, Stewart

Bulls star Zach LaVine, who re-signed with the team this summer, let off some steam after getting benched in the late going of a loss to Orlando on Friday.

Donovan said on Sunday that LaVine and the the team’s other top players must live up to a standard to maintain their minutes, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays.

“There’s a lot he can do to get into the game. If the scoring isn’t there for whatever reason, we’ve got to have a group standard,” Donovan said. “And it wasn’t all about him. Clearly the whole group in the first half, (the Magic) scored 66 points and then we gave up 42 in the second half. That game was two halves. With the way the game was going, you get caught as a coach thinking, ‘We’ve got to do something different here.’ Sometimes those decisions work and sometimes they don’t.”

LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic need to get into a rhythm early in order for the Bulls to be effective, Donovan told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times and other media members.

“We’re never going to be as good as we can be as a team until those three guys really drive the opening part of the game. … Those three guys are important to our team, and if we’re working around them . . . I don’t know if we can ever get where we need to get to.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Saddiq Bey has his streak of 152 consecutive games played — the second-longest in the league — snapped when the Pistons forward sat out against Sacramento on Sunday. Bey tried to push through his ankle sprain and keep the streak alive, Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press tweets. However, he was ruled out during warmups.
  • Aaron Nesmith scored a season-high 19 points for the Pacers on Saturday and forward Jalen Smith said his teammate was due for a big offensive game, he told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “We all know what Aaron can do,” Smith said. “Aaron’s one of the best shooters on the team, arguably one of the best shooters in the NBA in my opinion. We knew that he was due for a breakout game some time soon. We kept telling him to keep trusting himself, keep shooting. It’s going to fall sometime soon. It can’t be off all the time.”
  • Longtime Bucks scout Ron Stewart passed away unexpectedly on Friday, the team tweets. Stewart scouted pro and college players for Milwaukee after previously serving as the head women’s basketball coach at Western Michigan.

Pacers Exercise 2023/24 Options On Four Players

The Pacers have picked up their team options for the 2023/24 season on four players, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Those four options are as follows:

Haliburton, Nesmith, Duarte, and Jackson were all already under contract for 2022/23. As a result of today’s moves, all four players now have guaranteed salaries for the ’23/24 season too. Haliburton and Nesmith will be eligible for rookies scale extensions during the 2023 offeason, while Duarte and Jackson have fourth-year options for ’24/25.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2023/24 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Haliburton is considered a cornerstone piece of the Pacers’ rebuild, having been acquired earlier this year in the blockbuster trade that sent Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento. The promising young point guard averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 assists per game in 26 appearances (36.1 MPG) for his new team down the stretch last season.

Nesmith also changed teams via trade earlier this year, arriving from Boston in this summer’s Malcolm Brogdon trade. It’s unclear whether he’ll be a key part of the Pacers’ future, but he should get a chance this season to play a rotation role and make his case to stick around long-term.

Duarte and Jackson had promising rookie seasons for the Pacers in 2021/22, though they only appeared in 55 and 36 games, respectively. Assuming they stay healthy, both should have regular roles going forward.

Central Notes: Nesmith, Pistons Lineup, Middleton, Drummond

Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith is nursing a foot injury and his availability for opening night is in question, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Nesmith is expected to play a second-unit role after being acquired from the Celtics in the Malcolm Brogdon deal. Coach Rick Carlisle said the former first-round pick has “a plantar fascia issue.”

“He’ll miss some time,” he said. “The hope is that there’s a possibility he could be back for the opener, but we don’t know for sure. As the days go on, we’ll have a better feel for that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons could alter their frontcourt lineup depending on matchups, according to Mike Curtis of the Detroit News. Recently acquired Bojan Bogdanovic will join Saddiq Bey at the forward spots with Isaiah Stewart in the middle against certain teams. When a bigger lineup is desired, Bogdanovic could come off the bench with Marvin Bagley III sliding into the starting five.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Khris Middleton is “making progress” but “he’s still got a ways to go,” Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. The Bucks are hopeful Middleton will return early in the season after undergoing surgery in August to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
  • Bulls backup center Andre Drummond is looking to become a 3-point threat, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s something that I spoke to the coaching staff in the summertime when I signed here, that it’s something that I’ve worked on, that I want to be able to stay on the floor, and I want to be able to add different facets to my game to be able to help this team win,” Drummond said. “And if I’m able to make that corner 3 when I’m wide open, it adds another element to our team.”

Pacers Notes: Turner, Nesmith, Mathurin, Haliburton

Even though they didn’t get Deandre Ayton, the Pacers‘ decision to submit an offer sheet to the free agent center indicates that Myles Turner is probably on the way out, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star.

Turner, 26, was the subject of trade rumors before this year’s deadline, but Indiana decided to keep him and move Domantas Sabonis instead. Turner wound up missing the final 39 games of the season with a stress reaction in his left foot, which could affect his trade value, but Boyd believes there’s still a market for him.

Turner has a $17.5MM expiring contract for next season, and Boyd expects the Pacers to pursue trades for other players with expiring deals to preserve their 2023 cap space. Indiana opened up additional room by waiving four players on Thursday before submitting the offer sheet to Ayton.

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Aaron Nesmith didn’t get the playing time he was hoping for in Boston after being selected in the 2020 lottery, but he’s hoping for a fresh start with the Pacers, Boyd states in a separate story. Nesmith, who was part of the return for Malcolm Brogdon, said his time with the Celtics was still a valuable experience. “I learned what it takes to win in this league,” he said. “Being able to be a part of a Finals run, make it to the playoffs both of my years, get some playoff experience. So hopefully I can bring that over here to Indiana and kind of show the other young guys what it takes to win and that nothing’s gonna be given to you.”
  • The Pacers will shut down first-round pick Bennedict Mathurin for the rest of Summer League, citing “precautionary reasons,” Boyd adds in another piece. Mathurin played well in his first three games, averaging 19.3 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 48.8% from the field and 38.5% from three-point range. Isaiah Jackson and Terry Taylor will also be sidelined for the team’s final two games.
  • In an interview with NBA TV, coach Rick Carlisle raved about the trade that brought Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana in February, according to Boyd. “Haliburton, yeah, that changed everything for this franchise,” Carlisle said. “Now you got free agents that want to come play for the Pacers because they want to come play with Tyrese Haliburton and that’s a huge deal.”

Central Notes: Ayton, Nesmith, Pacers, Ivey, Pistons

On a Tuesday appearance on 107.5 The Fan, ESPN’s Bobby Marks detailed a couple ways the Pacers can create enough cap space to sign Suns center Deandre Ayton, the top restricted free agent on the market, to a maximum-salary offer sheet. Indiana is currently about $26.4MM under the cap, but needs to get to $31MM to sign Ayton to a max deal.

You’d have to waive a (non-guaranteed) player like Duane Washington Jr. and then you’d have to either make a trade or you would have to use the waive and stretch provision on a couple players, maybe the couple players you got in the Celtics trade,” Marks said, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “The challenge becomes if Phoenix matches (an offer sheet for Ayton), you can’t go back and take back those waivers. So you run the risk of losing three players to waivers on an offer sheet that likely would get matched.”

Marks believes the Suns would match the deal so they wouldn’t lose Ayton for nothing, even though he wouldn’t be trade-eligible for several months. As Boyd details, the three players Marks was referring to that came from the Celtics are Juwan Morgan, Nik Stauskas and Malik Fitts.

Boyd says Goga Bitadze might be a player the Pacers could deal away to give Ayton the offer sheet — Bitadze will make $4.765MM next season. However, as Boyd points out, the Pacers haven’t signed a restricted free agent to an offer sheet since 2013, and it was a very modest deal, relatively, for Chris Copeland.

A more viable alternative for Indiana to land Ayton might be a sign-and-trade for Myles Turner, which has been the subject of multiple rumors, but Marks wondered if Turner alone would be enough for Phoenix.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Aaron Nesmith, another player in the trade with Boston that sent Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics, said he was “completely caught off guard” when he heard the news, but the Pacers had their eye on him for a while and he’ll get a bigger opportunity with Indiana, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Indiana’s brass told Nesmith to focus on honing a specific skill set. “To play free, be a good 3-and-D guy and I could be a top-notch 3-and-D guy in this league, so that’s the focus,” Nesmith said, per Agness. “That’s what we’re going to work for and that’s what I’m going to become.”
  • The Pacers announced that they’re withholding first-rounder Bennedict Mathurin for the remainder of Las Vegas Summer League due to a sore left big toe. He was the No. 6 pick of last month’s draft. Second-year players Terry Taylor and Isaiah Jackson will also be out. Summer League ends on July 17, so I’m sure it’s just for precautionary reasons.
  • Jaden Ivey, the No. 5 pick of the draft, showed the Pistons flashes of his enormous upside in his brief Summer League action before suffering a sprained ankle, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Cade Cunningham, Detroit’s No. 1 overall pick last year, said on a recent NBA TV appearance that he was looking forward to playing with his new backcourt partner. “Definitely excited to play with him,” Cunningham said. “He’s so talented, brings so much to the team. Just the way he plays the game, trying to play the right way, trying to play for his teammates, spread the ball. It’s all exciting. Being able to take the court with him is exciting and it’s coming soon. I’m excited, man.”

Pacers Notes: Nesmith, Cap, Brissett, Sabonis, Taylor

Malcolm Brogdon has passed his physical with the Celtics, clearing the way for Aaron Nesmith to officially join the Pacers‘ Summer League team, a league source tells James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. With the Pacers/Celtics trade that sent Nesmith to Indiana officially irreversible, the former lottery pick could make his Summer League debut with the Pacers as soon as Tuesday, Boyd writes.

The completion of the Brogdon deal also clears a few extra million dollars in cap space for the Pacers, who reportedly have their eye on restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton.

Indiana doesn’t have quite enough cap room to make Ayton a maximum-salary offer, but the team is close to getting there. The Pacers also could be attempting to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns so they don’t have to worry about the possibility of Phoenix matching an offer sheet.

As we wait to see what happens on the Ayton front, let’s round up a few more Pacers-related items…

  • The Pacers decided to pick up Oshae Brissett‘s team option in June rather than declining it to negotiate a longer-term contract with the young swingman as a restricted free agent. However, Brissett tells Boyd that he wasn’t bothered by that decision and still hopes to re-sign with the team in unrestricted free agency next summer. “They believed in me when no one else did, so whatever they had on the table I was really ready (to accept) and come back and give it my all for this year,” he said. “I want to be here long term, so I know next year, whatever happens, Indiana’s always gonna be my No. 1 option to be back. The fans and the team have welcomed me with open arms and I’ll never forget that.”
  • Former Pacers center Domantas Sabonis told Boyd that being traded from Indiana to Sacramento was “hard” and that he expects to have “a lot of emotions” when he plays in Indiana for the first time as a King. “I love Indiana,” Sabonis said. “That was basically my first real NBA experience. I spent one year in OKC and then got traded, so that was my home for a long time, you know?”
  • After having his salary guaranteed for 2022/23, Terry Taylor spoke to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about the role he envisions himself playing for the Pacers next season. “I think I can come in and do the little things to help the team, like play defense, be a versatile defender, crash the offensive glass like I usually do,” Taylor said. “And just be tough-minded and do all the dirty plays that nobody else wants to do.”

Pacers Trade Malcolm Brogdon To Celtics

JULY 9: The Celtics’ deal with the Pacers for Brogdon is now official, per an Indiana press release.


JULY 1: The Pacers have agreed to trade veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The deal will send center Daniel Theis, wing Aaron Nesmith, and a 2023 first-round pick to Indiana, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter). Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, and Juwan Morgan are also headed to the Pacers in the swap, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

The 2023 first-round pick the Pacers are acquiring in the trade will be top-12 protected, tweets Brian Robb of MassLive. If it doesn’t convey, Indiana will instead receive a second-rounder.

The Celtics wanted to acquire a “true play-making guard,” Wojnarowski explains (via Twitter), and were able to do so without including any of their core players in the package. Brogdon has battled injuries frequently over the course of his six-year career, but has been effective on both ends of the court when healthy.

In 2021/22, the 29-year-old averaged 19.1 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 5.1 RPG in 36 games (33.5 MPG) for the Pacers. Brogdon’s three-point percentage dipped to 31.2% last season, but he’s still a 37.6% career shooter from beyond the arc.

Although Brogdon’s name has come up frequently in trade rumors this offseason, he was primarily linked to the Wizards and Knicks in the weeks leading up to the draft. Washington addressed its point guard hole by agreeing to acquire Monte Morris and sign Delon Wright, while New York landed Jalen Brunson in free agency. That opened the door for another Eastern Conference club to make a deal with the Pacers.

Brogdon will earn $67.6MM over the next three seasons, including $22.6MM in 2022/23. In order to match his salary and make the trade legal, the Celtics will have to include five players in their package — the priciest of those players, Theis, is making $8.69MM next season, while Nesmith will earn $3.8MM. Stauskas, Fitts, and Morgan were on non-guaranteed minimum-salary contracts, which will become guaranteed for matching purposes, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

The Celtics, who also reportedly agreed to sign Danilo Gallinari, now have about $167.5MM committed to 11 players, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), so team ownership doesn’t appear worried about paying a tax bill in 2022/23. Depending on how deep into the tax Boston is willing to go, the club could also make use of its $17MM trade exception, which won’t be utilized in this deal.

The Pacers, meanwhile, had interest in Grant Williams, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), but were ultimately willing to accept for a Celtics’ 2023 first-round pick that could land pretty late in the 20s.

Indiana may also see value in Theis and Nesmith, but the deal is more about the first-rounder and the cap flexibility moving off Brogdon will create. In addition to clearing some long-term money, the Pacers now have about $31MM in projected cap room this summer, tweets Marks.

The two teams will have to wait until July 9 to officially complete the trade, Marks notes (via Twitter), since Morgan can’t be dealt until then.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Reddish, Raptors’ Draft, Celtics’ Summer Roster, Boucher, Young

The Knicks have checked in with the Pistons regarding the No. 5 pick in the draft, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports. Cam Reddish‘s name has come up in those conversations but it would take a significant package for Detroit to trade down the lottery. New York owns the No. 11 pick. The Knicks have also reportedly explored trading with the Kings for the No. 4 pick with their eyes on point guard Jaden Ivey.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Sixers, Barnes, Nesmith

The Sixers have been successful since trading for James Harden last month, but he’s still trying to find the right balance between scoring and setting up teammates, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harden has averaged 13.7 shots per game since coming to Philadelphia, which would be his lowest total in a decade.

“You have another guy [Joel Embiid] right now who’s leading the league in scoring on my team,” Harden said after Friday’s win over the Mavericks. “Night-in and night-out, he’s used to, he’s confident of getting buckets.”

Coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week that he would like to see Harden shoot more frequently, and Embiid expressed the same sentiment on Friday, saying the former MVP needs to be more aggressive heading into the playoffs. The two players spread out the scoring duties against Dallas, with Embiid contributing 21 of his 32 points in the first half and Harden scoring 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.

“I’m just trying to find a balance like I talked about before, when to be a play-maker,” Harden said. “I think tonight especially in that fourth quarter, me attacking, attacking, attacking, the play-making ability is going to come because we got lobs, we got threes. So that’s going to come with my aggressiveness. You just got to read the game. And tonight, I felt I read the game well.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers indicated that he might consider resting some of his players, particularly with a tough back-to-back looming for the Sixers Sunday and Monday against the Raptors and Heat, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That wraps up a stretch of six games in nine days with two back-to-backs and a pair of one-game road trips. “You’d rather have this at the beginning of the year,” Rivers said. “But every team, at some point, goes through a stretch like this.”
  • A crucial mistake in Friday’s loss to the Lakers should be a learning experience for Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes, states Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Although Barnes had a great game with 31 points and 17 rebounds, his late inbounds pass was intercepted by Russell Westbrook, who hit a three-pointer to send the game to overtime. “It wasn’t just him,” Fred VanVleet said. “He really gave us a chance to be in the game, dominated both ends of the floor, had a couple unfortunate plays but … I’ve certainly had my share of them (and) it sucks in the moment but all you can do for those times is grow and get better at it, and Scottie will do that.”
  • Celtics guard Aaron Nesmith has been upgraded to questionable for Sunday’s game, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Nesmith has missed the past two weeks with a sprained right ankle.