Isaiah Jackson

Central Notes: Pistons, Giannis, Hield, Theis, Jackson, Smith

Another Central Division team could be making a deal soon. While the Pistons can’t upstage Milwaukee’s acquisition of Damian Lillard, they have been active in trade talks over the last few weeks, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports.

Edwards speculates that James Wiseman, Marvin Bagley, Killian Hayes, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks are the candidates to be dealt, which could clear a logjam at some positions and open up more playing time for the Pistons’ rookies. In Hayes’ case, the 2020 lottery pick doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans after acquiring Monte Morris and drafting Marcus Sasser.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of Lillard, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says that despite the acquisition of the longtime All-Star guard, there’s no guarantee that Giannis Antetokounmpo will commit to the Bucks long-term (video link). Antetokounmpo has yet to sign an extension this offseason and has financial incentive to wait but he may want out if Milwaukee doesn’t win another championship this season. “Maybe they’re 10 percent better in terms of this title chase, maybe five percent. The real question is, ‘What does it mean for Giannis?,'” Windhorst said. “Giannis made it clear he was not going to sign an extension with this team. He wanted to see them go all-in. They have gone all-in. But if he still doesn’t sign an extension, they’re still on the one-year window.”
  • Even though general manager Chad Buchanan has downplayed reports that the Pacers are looking to trade Buddy Hield, giving second-year guard Bennedict Mathurin a starting job ahead of Hield could cause chemistry issues, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star opines. Hield is in the final year of his contract and extension talks have stalled, Buchanan admitted this week, though they could be rekindled.
  • The Pacers have multiple options at center behind Myles Turner. Buchanan indicated that Daniel Theis, Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith will battle in training camp for the backup role, according to Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. Buchanan added he won’t look to trade any of those players until there’s more clarity regarding the rotation.

Pacers Notes: Hield, Mathurin, Backup Center, Nembhard, McConnell

The Pacers are in a difficult position trying to make a Buddy Hield trade so close to the start of the season, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. No progress has been reported since news broke last Wednesday that the team was working with Hield’s representatives to find a deal after the sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Dopirak believes Indiana is justified in asking a high price for Hield, who is one of the league’s top three-point shooters. However, teams are reluctant to shake up their rosters this far into the offseason, especially for a player who has an expiring contract.

It’s also not clear what the Pacers will be seeking in return for Hield. Dopirak notes that the team saw a need after last season to upgrade at power forward and find defensive-minded wings, but that has already been addressed during the offseason. He states that they’ll need three-point shooting help if they part with Hield and may be looking for a younger, less expensive player who can do what he does.

There’s more on the Pacers, all courtesy of Dopirak:

  • Bennedict Mathurin has a chance to win a starting job, but only if he can improve his defense. Dopirak observes that the first-team All-Rookie selection struggled with that part of the game, particularly when he got an opportunity to start late in the season. The Pacers are hoping to see progress from Mathurin in camp and will need him to take on a larger role if Hield gets traded.
  • Daniel Theis‘ impressive showing in the World Cup gives him a strong case to be the primary backup center heading into camp. Dopirak notes that he’ll be competing for minutes with Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith, who are both younger and more athletic than the 31-year-old Theis. He adds that Jackson is the team’s best lob finisher and second-best shot blocker behind Myles Turner, while Smith was Indiana’s leader last season in rebounds per 48 minutes.
  • The Pacers’ improved roster could lead to several other changes, Dopirak adds. If Mathurin and free agent addition Bruce Brown are both starters, Andrew Nembhard could move from shooting guard to backup point guard, which is his more natural position. That could lead to a reduction in playing time for T.J. McConnell, who posted the best scoring average of his career last season.

Central Notes: Smith, Jackson, Bucks, Pistons, Bulls

Young Pacers big men Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson are not playing the roles they initially expected to this season, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Smith entered the season as the starting power forward but has since been moved to center as the Pacers deploy smaller lineups.

Both Smith and Jackson had seen a minutes uptick when starter Myles Turner missed a few games recently with back spasms, but now must compete for primary backup honors behind him.

“I brought them together and I said, ‘You guys both need to be ready,'” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “‘Myles is back. He’s starting. My decision on who is going to back him up is going to be a split-second decision based on what I’m seeing and feeling in the game. I’d like to be able to tell you guys which guy for sure is going to be in there first. But I don’t know that.'”

Dopirak notes that Carlisle has alternated between both players as his Turner’s primary backup in the four games the club has played since Turner rejoined the Pacers. Smith has served as the lead reserve in three of those four occasions. Per Dopriak, both players bring different skill sets to the table — Smith is the better shooter and rebounder, while Jackson is speedier and a better player around the rim.

“These are decisions that are not easy decisions,” Carlisle noted. “I think the way the game is now, it’s so dynamic and it can change on a split-second’s notice. You can go into a game and say that one guy for sure is going to play and have some events happen that trigger someone else going into the game.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • As the February 9 trade deadline approaches, the Bucks could go in a variety of different directions, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes in a deadline primer for the team.
  • In the middle of a rebuilding 2022/23 season, Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required) supplies his grades for a 12-36 Pistons roster. Jalen Duren (A), Isaiah Stewart (A), Bojan Bogdanovic (A-minus), and Alec Burks (A-minus) lead the way, with general manager Troy Weaver also earning an A grade.
  • As they return home from a Thursday game in Paris against the Pistons, the Bulls are hoping to maintain the momentum that has them on a 10-6 stretch, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “We have to show how much we want it,” All-Star Chicago forward DeMar DeRozan said of his team’s ethos. “Every single game from here on out is basically like a do-or-die. And not to look at it like it’s pressure or a bad thing. It’s an exciting thing.”

Central Notes: Mitchell, Bayno, Jackson, Antetokounmpo

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell hopes he’ll get a warm reception when he returns to play in Utah on Tuesday for the first time since the Jazz traded him, he told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I don’t know what the response will be. I hope it’s cheers,” the Cavs star said. “We did a lot of great things there. Obviously, we didn’t accomplish our end goal. But I had a lot of positives despite not winning a championship. That’s not easy. Only one team does it. We had five cracks at it, and we missed.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons assistant coach Bill Bayno is back on the bench and traveling again after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. “Thank God I got this while I was with an NBA team,” he said. “When you have good employer health insurance, it makes a huge difference.” The cancer was discovered during a screening while the Pistons were participating in the Summer League.
  • Pacers big man Isaiah Jackson, who had fallen out of the rotation, had an eventful and busy week, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. He was sent to Fort Wayne in the G League and played back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. He then played 15 minutes, contributing 12 points and two blocks, in Indiana’s game against Portland on Friday. “A little tired, but I feel like that’s all mental for me right now,” he said on Sunday. “I just want to see how hard I can push myself. … I was like I might as well just to keep that momentum up. I feel good for the most part.”
  • The Bucks have hit a rough patch but Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t panicking, as he told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Even though we’ve lost a few games, we’re still second or third in the East,” he said. “There’s no reason to panic but there’s a reason for us to be urgent, have urgency in the way we practice and the way we play the game. But we have a chance, so as long as we get better every single day, we have a chance to be great when it matters the most.” Milwaukee has dropped six of its last nine games.

Central Notes: Williams, Donovan, Jackson, Grant, Pistons

Bulls forward Patrick Williams, the fourth overall pick of the 2020 draft, might not be progressing at the rate that many had hoped, but he is still improving, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The 21-year-old scored a season-high 22 points on just eight shot attempts in Wednesday’s victory over Brooklyn. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

I’m just maturing in this league,” Williams said. “That [wrist] surgery last year cost me, what? Sixty-some [65] games? But where it cost me was the experience, playing. So I’m trying to learn on the fly and get better. And to be honest with you, I’m enjoying this maturation process. Maybe not everyone else is enjoying how quickly it’s happening, but my mindset has changed a lot lately and I feel like so has the mindset of my teammates.”

Williams, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason, is averaging 9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .462/.411/.929 shooting through 38 games (28.7 MPG).

Here’s more from the Central:

  • There has been some talk of Zach LaVine being frustrated about not getting his number called in clutch situations at the end of games, even though he publicly said he was fine with DeMar DeRozan getting most of those looks. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pushed back on the notion that LaVine isn’t involved in his late-game plays, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).
  • Pacers big man Isaiah Jackson has been out of the rotation lately, so he’s temporarily heading to the G League to get more playing time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, including Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). The Pacers tweaked their starting lineup to go small, starting three guards and Aaron Nesmith at power forward, which moved Jalen Smith to backup center and cut into Jackson’s minutes. Jackson, who turns 21 next week, was the 22nd pick of the 2021 draft.
  • Forward Jerami Grant was traded to Portland in the offseason, but he appreciated his time with the Pistons, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). “I think it was a very important step in my career,” Grant said. “For me, just going (to Detroit) and being able to kind of spread my wings and show people what I can do. Not just on the defensive end, but also on the offensive end. I think it opened a lot of people’s eyes going there. I’m grateful for Detroit and (general manager) Troy (Weaver).”

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: Pistons, Turner, Bitadze

There are many ways Pistons coach Dwane Casey could go with his rotation next season, Keith Langlois of writes. In Langlois’ view, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey are the only rotation locks, with Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes and Alec Burks “good bets” to join them. Beyond that, Casey has numerous choices between youth and experience.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons fans are brimming with optimism, though they’re realistic about next season’s prospects, The Athletic’s James Edwards III revealed in a fan poll. With nearly 2,000 subscribers weighing in, 98 percent professed confidence in the team’s direction and 64 percent said they were very confident in the front office. However, 72.5 percent voted that the team would only win between 26-35 games next season. Second-year forward Isaiah Livers received the most votes for “breakout” player.
  • Myles Turner‘s season could play out similar to the way Victor Oladipo departed from the Pacers organization in 2020, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files opines. Turner could get off to a good start and pump up his trade value. In the same mailbag piece, Agness speculates that Goga Bitadze won’t have a long-term role in the organization due to the team’s current playing style, along with the presence of Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
  • Earlier on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo stated he wouldn’t mind playing for the Bulls later in his career. Get the details here.

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 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 Head Coach Rick Carlisle Out Next Two Games

Head coach Rick Carlisle will miss the Pacers‘ upcoming road games at Memphis on Thursday and at Toronto on Sunday due to personal reasons, the team announced. Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce will serve as acting head coach in Carlisle’s stead.

As Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files observes, this is the second time that Carlisle has been away from the team this season. He contracted COVID-19 in December and missed four games, with Indiana going 2-2 with Pierce at the helm.

I encouraged Lloyd to follow his instincts,” Carlisle said in December. “He’s an experienced head coach — and when you’re on the sidelines and you’re making the play calls and you’re calling the timeouts and things like that, there’s a feel element to it. And you can’t have that interrupted just because you work for the guy that’s not there.”

In other Pacers news, rookie Isaiah Jackson was unable to play the second half of Wednesday’s game against Sacramento due to a headache, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star.

Jackson suffered a concussion last week and missed two games. Carlisle said he didn’t know whether Jackson’s headache was related to the concussion.

I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen,” Carlisle said, per Boyd. “Doctors felt it was best to keep him out of the game. … The hope is that this is not anything serious, but we’ll know more (Wednesday night) or (Thursday), and whenever we can let you know where things are at, we will.”

Jackson has been ruled out of Thursday’s game, Boyd tweets.