Rick Carlisle

Pacers Notes: McConnell, Brown, Toppin, Nesmith, Haliburton

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle has talked about trusting all 15 of his players, but he used a condensed rotation in Wednesday’s season opener, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Carlisle kept at least one of his starters on the floor throughout the first half of the victory over Washington, and only 10 players saw action until the game was out of reach.

Carlisle appears to have a set starting five of Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, Obi Toppin and Myles Turner. Only Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith and Jalen Smith came off the bench before halftime, and Isaiah Jackson saw some minutes in the second half after Turner got into foul trouble.

T.J. McConnell is among the players who are starting the season outside the rotation, and Carlisle said it was extremely tough to break the news to the veteran point guard.

“I had one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had with a player about the situation and the minutes,” Carlisle told reporters. “It was T.J. I was almost in tears talking to him about it. One of the reasons was he was so great. He was just him. He said ‘Hey, listen, I’m disappointed. I’ll be ready. I’ll be professional, you know that. I’ll do everything I can to set an example.’ But this is one of the great competitors in the history of this franchise. There certainly are going to be opportunities for him to play, but heading into this game the minutes plan didn’t shake out well for him. So we talked about it, and that was tough.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Brown set a career high by making six three-pointers in his first game with the Pacers, Dopirak adds. The free agent addition struggled with his shot early in the preseason, but he’s been getting better opportunities since Haliburton began playing. “It’s just the offense,” Brown said. “We play fast. Everybody’s running. Myles one time got me an open three just because of his seal at the rim. Our offense is so random. Anybody can score the ball and tonight it was me.”
  • Toppin is thrilled to have a starting job after spending his first three NBA seasons backing up Julius Randle with the Knicks, Dopirak adds in another story for the Star. Toppin loved playing in New York, where his father was a basketball legend on the local playgrounds, but he never got the playing time he needed to develop his game.
  • Nesmith said he hadn’t thought much about an extension before the Pacers began negotiations over the weekend, Dopirak states in a separate story. Nesmith signed the three-year, $33MM deal shortly before Monday’s deadline, cementing him as part of the team’s young foundation. “When Aaron Nesmith came in the trade last year, we had high hopes that he would be a long-term piece for us,” Carlisle said on Monday. “This extension obviously solidifies that. We’re really happy for him. He’s a great person, he’s a versatile player, he’s tough, he can shoot the ball, he can play different positions. It’s a great day.”
  • In another piece, Dopirak takes an in-depth look at how Haliburton was able to put himself in position to land a five-year extension this summer that could be worth as much as $260MM.

Larry Bird No Longer Has Active Role With Pacers

Larry Bird, who stepped down as the Pacers‘ president of basketball operations in 2017, has continued to work with the team in recent years in an advisory role, but he didn’t attend any of Indiana’s pre-draft workouts this spring, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, who hears that Bird no longer has an active role with the franchise.

“Yeah, he’s not active,” current Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard confirmed to Agness.

However, Pritchard suggested that he and head coach Rick Carlisle can still reach out to the Hall of Famer for advice or feedback if they need it.

“Larry is a good friend of mine and he’s a good friend of Rick’s,” Pritchard said. “At any time we need help, we know where to look. He’s always available.”

Bird, of course, was a Celtic for his entire career as a player, but the Indiana native – who played his college ball at Indiana State – spent most of his post-playing career with the Pacers.

Bird was named Indiana’s head coach in 1997, resigned after three years, then was hired as the team’s president of basketball operations in 2003. He stepped away for a year from 2012-13 due to health reasons, but otherwise held his position in the Pacers’ front office until 2017. After stepping down in ’17, he held the title of advisor to the president of basketball operations (Pritchard).

According to Agness, while Bird wasn’t an everyday presence around the team in recent years, he enjoyed attending pre-draft workout in May and June to evaluate prospects and also played a role in the rehiring of Carlisle in 2021. However, Agness says he didn’t see Bird at a practice or game at all during the 2021/22 season.

Pacers Rumors: Carlisle, Brunson, Brogdon, Westbrook, Hield, Turner

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle appears committed to his role for the future, Marc Stein writes at Substack. As we recently relayed, Carlisle denied that he’s interested in switching to a front office role, addressing the rumors in a brief statement.

“I just want to be completely clear on this. I don’t know what the assumptions are that people are making about this, why this would be the case,” Carlisle said, according to Stein. “When I came here, we had hoped to have a really good season this year. We had some struggles early, and it morphed into a change in direction, but that’s OK. It has not quelled my enthusiasm for being back with the Indiana Pacers or taking on this challenge one single bit.”

The Pacers are viewed as a team that may pursue Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in free agency this summer, Stein reports. Brunson played under Carlisle for three years in Dallas. Signing the 25-year-old could motivate Carlisle further, though Detroit and New York are also expected to bid for his services.

There’s more out of Indiana today:

  • The Pacers have left several rival teams with the impression that they’ll attempt to trade Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, Stein relays. Trading Brogdon would open a spot for Brunson, who could pair with Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt.
  • If the team doesn’t sign Brunson, it could also examine a possible Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers, Stein notes. A deal for Westbrook would likely include Buddy Hield, whom the Lakers coveted before trading for Westbrook last offseason. It could also include Brogdon and draft compensation from the Lakers. Indiana acquired Hield in a deal with Sacramento earlier this season.
  • One player the Pacers do want to keep is Myles Turner, according to Stein. Turner saw his name surface in trade rumors this season. He averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 29.4 minutes per game, shooting 51% from the floor. He’s under contract for next season at $18MM.

Rick Carlisle Denies Rumors Of Switch To Front Office

Amid speculation that Pacers coach Rick Carlisle desired to make a switch to a front office role, Carlisle adamantly denied those rumors on Thursday afternoon.

I came here to coach. …I want to put this to rest once and for all,” Carlisle said (Twitter links via Pacers VP of basketball communications Michael Preston). “…Let me be absolutely clear. I’m here to coach this team and coach this team for the long-haul. I’m not afraid of any aspect of a rebuild one bit. Not one single bit.”

The speculation about the possibility of Carlisle transitioning to the front office has been persistent for several months, and popped again last week in Chicago when NBA executives attended the McDonald’s All-America game, as relayed by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Marc Stein (Twitter links).

At 62, Carlisle is the fifth-oldest head coach in the league (per Basketball Reference), so the rumors that he might not have the patience to coach through another rebuild make some sense. I use “another” because the Mavericks, his former team, struggled from 2016-19, going a combined 90-158 over the three seasons.

The Pacers were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, even if it was on the bottom end, and instead have been one of the worst teams in the league. As shown by our reverse standings, Indiana currently holds a 25-55 record, the fifth-worst mark in the league.

However, owner Herb Simon has previously stated he doesn’t want to undertake a full-fledged rebuild, and that was made evident by the team acquiring a second-year player, Tyrese Haliburton, as opposed to draft picks at the trade deadline (as part of a larger deal headlined by Domantas Sabonis being sent to Sacramento).

Central Notes: Ball, Grant, Carlisle, Guy, Wade

Lonzo Ball will be reevaluated this week and “wants to come back and play,” Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.

A week ago, the Bulls announced Ball would not run for 10 days. His rehab from surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee was halted after he felt discomfort in the knee. Ball’s reevaluation is expected to happen when the team returns from its road trip, which ends on Tuesday. There’s hope Ball can ramp up to full-speed running and cutting after he’s reevaluated.

“Lonzo really wants to come back and play. He wants to do everything possible…,” coach Billy Donovan said. “If we do start ramping up and [he doesn’t respond well again], I don’t know what they’ll do because we have not discussed that.”

Ball has been out since January 14.

We have from the Central Division:

  • Jerami Grant, the Pistons’ leading scorer, will sit out the rest of the season due to a left calf strain, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets. Grant suffered the injury against Washington on Friday. A prime trade candidate this offseason, he has one year remaining on his three-year contract.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle has returned to the sidelines after leaving the team for two games due to personal reasons, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star tweets. “Felt very bad about not going on that trip because it’s just a hard set of couple games, given our personnel situation. But we’ve got seven (games) left, and we’ve got to focus,” he said.
  • Guard Kyle Guy has rejoined the Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ G League team, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Guy was waived by the Heat on Thursday. Guy signed a two-way contract with Miami in mid-January after playing with the Charge. He appeared in 19 games with Miami, averaging 3.9 PPG in 9.8 MPG.
  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade has a six-to-eight week recovery period from his knee surgery, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. The meniscus surgery on his right knee will be a cleanup procedure and he should be a full participant in Summer League activities, Russo adds.

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.

Pacers Notes: Turner, Rebuild, Roster, Carlisle

The deal today between the Pacers and Kings that exchanged headliners Domantas Sabonis and Tyrese Haliburton, among others, could prove to be good news for remaining Indiana big man Myles Turner, says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, Turner seems to be excited to play alongside Haliburton. Turner, currently recuperating from a stress reaction in his right foot, has had another solid-if-injury-plagued season with Indiana. Turner, averaging 12.9 PPG and 7.1 RPG this year, should see additional offensive touches as he shifts over to a full-time center role.

There’s more out of the Hoosier State:

  • After opting to move on from two-time All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers will pivot its focus to Turner and budding second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton as they retool their roster, writes James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Boyd credits the Indiana front office with making the right call in moving perhaps its best trade chip for a possible future star in Haliburton.
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle raved about his team’s new additions tonight, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). Carlisle praised new wing Buddy Hield as a high-level shooter, and expressed his enthusiasm to work with Haliburton, hailing the latter as “an elite young point guard that affects the game positively in many, many ways.”
  • In his first season back with the Pacers since 2007, returning head coach Rick Carlisle has become a key voice as the Pacers make roster decisions with an eye towards the future, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic“We’re putting together a path forward that is going to be a little bit different, obviously, after, after today and tonight,” Carlisle said after the team traded veteran wing Caris LeVert in exchange for the expiring contract of injured guard Ricky Rubio and three future draft picks.

Southwest Notes: Carlisle, Porzingis, Bane, Eubanks

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was touched by the video tribute the Mavericks offered tonight as he returned to Dallas to face the team he ran for the past 13 seasons, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Carlisle wiped away tears and acknowledged the fans as he watched the highlights, which included the NBA title he helped bring to the city in 2011.

Carlisle resigned last spring after the Mavs were knocked out of the playoffs and signed with Indiana shortly afterward. He recalled “a lot of blessings” during his time with the organization and said the team is in good hands with new coach Jason Kidd.

“This is now Jason’s time,” Carlisle said. “It’s their time as a staff. They’ve got an amazing opportunity with a young nucleus that could go on long run, for a long time. And so that’s exciting. That’s exciting for them. But being, being a small part of that foundation is meaningful to me and all the other coaches that have worked with me.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis left tonight’s game with soreness in his right knee, Townsend adds. Kidd didn’t have any information about his condition, saying, “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” but a source tells Townsend that Porzingis wasn’t on the team’s flight to Orlando.
  • Grizzlies swingman Desmond Bane, one of this season’s breakout stars, talked about using the lessons from his rookie season in an interview with Spencer Davies of Basketball News. “I learned just how to be a pro first and foremost,” Bane said. “The schedule last year was grueling due to all the games being canceled and so forth, so I had to learn how to just continue my habits more than anything. Stack good habits on top of each other and let the good days stack up, and learn how to be a pro essentially.”
  • Backup Spurs center Drew Eubanks has been forced to adjust to fluctuating playing time, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. Over a recent seven-game stretch, he played 11-to-19 minutes three times and seven or fewer minutes four times. “It can get frustrating, but I know where I’m at within the organization and with the coaches and front office,” he said. “It’s easy for me to come in every day and have a good attitude and be supportive of my teammates. I know they may be going through some turbulence too, but they’re still going to be supportive of me and whoever else.”

COVID Updates: Josh Green, Ziaire Williams, Okogie, Morant, Carlisle

Mavericks second-year wing Josh Green has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Green, the 18th overall pick of the 2020 draft, hasn’t seen much action so far this season, appearing in 17 games for a total of 125 minutes (7.4 MPG). He’s averaging 2.4 PPG and 1.5 RPG.

Rookie Ziaire Williams has entered the protocols for the Grizzlies, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Williams, the 10th overall pick of the 2021 draft, has also been dealing with an ankle sprain that has sidelined him for the past six games. Through 19 games (17.8 MPG), the 20-year-old is averaging 4.7 PPG and 1.5 RPG.

Timberwolves wing Josh Okogie has entered the protocols as well, the team announced (via Twitter). In 20 contests this season (13.9 MPG), Okogie is averaging 2.6 PPG and 2.2 RPG.

If the three players tested positive, they will need to isolate for at least 10 days or until they return two consecutive negative PCR tests a minimum of 24 hours apart.

Here are a couple more COVID-19 related updates:

  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant has exited the health and safety protocols, Barnes writes in a separate piece. Memphis is taking a “wait and see” approach with its star point guard, as he’s still dealing with a knee sprain suffered in late November. However, Morant is back with the team and will likely be on the bench tonight against Portland, Barnes tweets. The Grizzlies have surprisingly gone 10-1 without Morant and currently hold the fourth seed in the West with a 19-11 record.
  • Head coach Rick Carlisle is back with the Pacers after exiting the health and safety protocols, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Carlisle led Indiana’s practice Sunday and is expected to coach the team Tuesday at Miami, Boyd relays.

Central Notes: White, DeRozan, Caruso, Carlisle, Pangos

While COVID-19 disrupts rosters across the league, the Bulls are starting to get healthier, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports. Coby White, DeMar DeRozan and Javonte Green all cleared protocols this week and are expected to play Sunday against the Lakers. Derrick Jones Jr. left the protocols today and Matt Thomas is getting close, although he remains doubtful for Sunday.

White and DeRozan both said their symptoms were mild and agreed that their main issue was “boredom” while being away from the team. White, who was the first Chicago player to enter the protocols on December 1, said his experience was no worse than strep throat and the symptoms went away in two or three days. DeRozan tested positive five days after White, learning the news after a morning shootaround.

“It was one of those things, mixture of everything,” DeRozan said. “Frustration of not being able to go out there and play, trying to figure out why I don’t feel nothing, nothing’s wrong, how long I’m going to be out. Just a mixture of a lot of emotions. But at the end of the day, I just was like, ‘I’ve got to deal with it, something I’ve got to deal with,’ and went from there.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The two Bulls games that were postponed this week provided some benefits for the team, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Alex Caruso, who has been dealing with a sore right hamstring, is now fully recovered, according to coach Billy Donovan, and some players who had been seeing heavy minutes got a chance to rest.Lonzo (Ball) kind of stands out,” Donovan said.Zach (LaVine) is in health and safety protocols, but he was a guy that was logging a lot of minutes as well. So hopefully it gives those guys an opportunity to get their bodies a chance to recover some.”
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 10 days ago, should be ready to return for Tuesday’s game, assistant Lloyd Pierce told James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Pierce has filled in for Carlisle during his four-game absence.
  • In an interview with Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype, Cavaliers guard Kevin Pangos talks about adjusting to the NBA after playing six years in Europe.