It’s doubtful that Indiana Pacers forward Rakeem Christmas has been to an amusement park lately even though the past few weeks have seen him ride a roller coaster of call-ups and demotions. He’s currently being shuttled back and forth as Indiana struggles with injury issues.
On November 17th, Christmas was sent down to play for the Pacers’ D-League team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. That was where he played most of last season and had seen little playing time for Indiana up to that point.
Just four days later, Christmas returned to Indianapolis because of injuries to both Paul George and C.J. Miles. That tenure was brief, when the second-year player was returned to Fort Wayne on November 25. Just three days later, the continued uncertain status of George and Miles, coupled with knee issues for Kevin Seraphin brought back Christmas following the end of Thanksgiving weekend.
George’s health problems have been focused on his sore left ankle, while Miles’ is attempting to get through soreness in his left knee. Those two players are vitally important to Indiana’s fortunes, with George being a strong defender besides his talent on the offensive side of the ball. Miles helps give new head coach Nate McMillan a key reserve in the lineup, averaging over 14 points per game.
Christmas somewhat helps fill the void of Seraphin’s absence, since the Pacers’ other alternative is to give major minutes to Al Jefferson. The problem with that strategy is that while the soon-to-be 32-year-old Jefferson gives Indiana a presence in the paint, the aging process doesn’t allow him to be effective over the entire course of a game.
That leaves Christmas with the opportunity to see what he can do. Right now, McMillan hasn’t chosen to use him much. Following his call-up on November 21st, he played six minutes in garbage during the blowout loss at home to Golden State, scoring three points. Prior to these flurry of transactions, his only other court time came in nearly seven minutes at Chicago on October 29th.
Last season, as noted, Christmas primarily played at Fort Wayne, seeing his first NBA action with six minutes in the regular season finale. In that game, he scored four points and grabbed a rebound.
Christmas was originally selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2015 NBA Draft before immediately being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. One month later, the Cavaliers came to the conclusion that Christmas would see little, if any, time with a team that went on to win the NBA title. That led the Cavs to deal Christmas to the Pacers on July 23, 2015, in exchange for a 2019 second round selection.