The Indiana Pacers announced today that they have assigned rookie Shayne Whittington to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League.
The Western Michigan alum has appeared in only 13 games for the Blue-and-Gold this season, averaging 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in a little over four minutes per game.
With Roy Hibbert, David West, Luis Scola, Ian Mahinmi, and Lavoy Allen on the roster, minutes have been few and far between for the Pacers' rookie center. In five fewer games played, George Hill (159) has played nearly three-times as many total minutes as the Pacers' rookie (59).
Per reports from the Indy Star's Candace Buckner, head coach Frank Vogel - following his team's recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks last Wednesday - expressed his desire to start getting Whittington more playing time in games that are "not going the way we want."
Vogel said he and Larry Bird talked about inserting Whittington in games. Whittington said he was told recently to "stay ready."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 22, 2015
To be more specific, the talk btw Vogel & Bird consisted of using Whittington when "game’s not going the way we want."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 22, 2015
The team's sudden change of heart from one day making a concerted effort to insert him into the rotation to the next day reassigning him to Fort Wayne can most likely be explained away by George Hill's return to the lineup. With the team's starting point guard finally (crosses fingers) healthy, the Pacers necessarily had to make someone else inactive. C.J. Miles being out with a groin injury would permit Whittington to be active temporarily, but sending the rookie to the Mad Ants where he can hopefully get some steady minutes and focus on where he needs to improve will likely be an upgrade over idly watching from the sideline.
"I'm not seeing it as a demotion," Whittington told Pacers.com's Mark Montieth. "The D league isn't meant for that, it's meant for developing players."
Here is hoping that Whittington will gain more from his assignment than the frustration Solomon Hill found last season.
"The D-League is for developing talent and I didn't get a chance to play," Hill said following his short stint with the Mad Ants. "I sat the whole fourth quarter. It's like, is it really a developmental league?..."
Indiana's rookie center will join Solomon Hill, Orlando Johnson, and Miles Plumlee as the only players the Pacers have ever assigned to Fort Wayne.
Fans can see Whittington in action with the Mad Ants via You Tube on January 29 against the Iowa Energy and January 31 versus the Maine Red Claws. Meanwhile, the Pacers will be playing against the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.