Pacers Media Day on Monday included a positive outlook on the direction of the team from Rick Carlisle and several key players, which included not just good vibes, but great vibes, according to Jalen Smith.
Here are a few notes and observations from what we heard at the St. Vincent Center:
- Rick Carlisle is embracing his role and “going all-in on a group of guys that are young, talented, have extremely high character and tremendous upside.” He even went so far as to say, the task ahead is exciting. We also learned, the team begins camp relatively healthy, to the best of Carlisle’s knowledge, with Deividas Sirvydis the only player expected to be held out. Of course, later we learned from Goga Bitadze that certain movements were still bothering his ankle and he wasn’t sure if he’d be a go on Tuesday, although there are no structural issues.
- Carlisle is quite happy with the veterans on the roster, in particular TJ McConnell, Myles Turner and James Johnson for what they can bring in developing the younger guys. While the clogged backcourt rotation will create rotation decisions that may minimize TJ’s (He’s the only TJ! No more TJ qualifiers needed!) in the name of developing young players, Carlisle emphasized not to worry about TJ getting playing time.
- Speaking of minutes, overuse will not be a problem this year. Carlisle said it would be easy to play Tyrese Haliburton 40 minutes per game, but he envisions at least a 10-man rotation, and not heaping heavy minutes on any player. Instead they will lean on their depth which also allows more development opportunities for younger players.
- Tyrese Haliburton expressed his excitement over being thrust into the role of lead dog and face of the franchise. Now that he’s settled into his spot in the franchise and living a normal life in Indy, as opposed to out of The Alexander hotel last season, he’s much more comfortable.
- Haliburton heaped praise on TJ McConnell for their offseason work together and how McConnell is helping Hali with both positive reinforcement and tough love. In pick up games, even with McConnell is on the other team or guarding Haliburton, TJ will get on Hali for not taking the last shot or at least imposing his will on the game, pushing him to develop those habits to be dominant.
- Myles Turner discussed his summer of trade rumors for what he said would be the last time (at least until another trade rumor pops up). His focus is where his feet are and now that he is a veteran presence in the locker room at the ripe ol’ age of 26, he’s embracing the impact he can have on the team. Turner also feels he’s just scratched the surface of his potential and after focusing on heading into the season in good health, looks forward to showing what he can do.
- In discussing how he and Jalen Smith can complement each other (both can stretch the floor, JS rebounds well, teams will have to “pick their poison” when defending the pair) Turner mention how he’s looking forward to helping Smith and other develop. “I have that opportunity to be that Al Jefferson,” Turner said. He explained that Al Jeff took Turner under his wing when Myles was young, letting him know that some day Turner would have to pass along the knowledge in a similar way. That day is now.
- Turner turned away a question about a contract extension and didn’t want to comment on the scenario of the Pacers offering him a deal at some point during the season. Of course, his denial (you know I can’t answer) seemed to make clear, he would be weighing all of his options elsewhere after the season.
Here are few of the interviews via Pacer.com: