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Pacers sign Nate Hinton to 10-day deal amid Covid outbreak

The 22-year-old joined the Pacers for training camp.

2021 G League Winter Showcase - Fort Wayne Mad Ants v Delaware Blue Coats Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

With Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, and Isaiah Jackson joining Jeremy Lamb in health and safety protocols, the Pacers have signed Nate Hinton to a 10-day deal, the team announced Thursday.

After going undrafted out of Houston in 2020, Hinton signed a two-way contract for the Dallas Mavericks, while Rick Carlisle was still head coach. Prior to Summer League, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard accepted a qualifying offer to return to Dallas on a one-year, two-way contract; however, after nearly tallying more turnovers (14) than made field goals (16), he was waived on August 27, with the Mavericks instead signing Jaquori McLaughlin as his replacement. Upon being released, Hinton reunited with Carlisle in Indiana on an Exhibit-10 deal for training camp before ultimately sticking with the Mad Ants and averaging 8.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists against 2.2 turnovers in 14 games.

For a team that is struggling to connect from deep, the former Cougar isn’t likely to move the needle as a 21-percent 3-point shooter, but his familiarity with the coaching staff and the team’s system should at least make for a somewhat seamless transition in the event he gets pressed into action. As for the Pacers, while the NBA and the players association agreed to shorten quarantine time for asymptomatic vaccinated players on the health and safety protocols list to six days, three of the team’s next four opponents during that timeframe — which could be reduced if two negative tests are returned at least 24-hours apart — currently rank among the top-five teams in the Eastern Conference.

Just take a look at the first 11 games in January, which begins with three games in four nights and concludes with a four-game west coast road trip.

  • Sunday, January 2 @ Cleveland (20-14)
  • Tuesday, January 4 @ New York (17-18)
  • Wednesday, January 5 vs Brooklyn (23-9)
  • Saturday, January 8 vs Utah (25-9)
  • Monday, January 10 @ Boston (16-19)
  • Wednesday, January 12 vs Boston (16-19)
  • Friday, January 14 vs Phoenix (27-7)
  • Monday, January 17 @ LAC (18-17)
  • Wednesday, January 19 @ Los Angeles (17-19)
  • Thursday, January 20 @ Golden State (27-7)
  • Saturday, January 22 @ Phoenix(277-7)

Unless most of those teams are equally depleted, as is currently the case for the Celtics, who are down by eight players including Jayson Tatum, this was already going to be a difficult schedule for the Pacers to navigate ahead of the trade deadline at full-strength, let alone in the event of further spread.

Brogdon, meanwhile, after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to traveling to the NBA’s bubble campus in 2020, has already been sidelined for the last three games due to Achilles soreness, as was Lamb as a result of a wrist injury on Sunday against the Bulls. While it remains unclear how much more time either of them would’ve missed independent of entering health and safety protocols, Duarte also being unavailable likely necessitated the need for more bodies, given that Caris LeVert and newcomer Keifer Sykes would otherwise comprise the full list of guards comfortable with initiating offense.

With the G League on pause until January 5, two-way player Duane Washington Jr. also has a chance to see minutes off the bench with Kelan Martin most likely to replace Duarte in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve matinee contest against the Chicago Bulls.