Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis is now engaged

Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis hasn’t been able to play basketball lately due to injury, but he’s been productive on the personal side of things, as evidenced by happy news shared by the Indianapolis Star:

Indiana Pacers forward-center Domantas Sabonis may be battling plantar fasciitis issues but it didn’t prevent him from getting down on one knee.

Sabonis posted pictures of the romantic moment on Instagram Wednesday evening.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world,” Sabonis posted after proposing to girlfriend, Shashana.

Cool.

Pacers fire coach Nate McMillan

The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday they have relieved head coach Nate McMillan of his coaching duties.

“On behalf of the Simon family and the Pacers organization, I’d like to thank Nate for his years with the team,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “This was a very hard decision for us to make; but we feel it’s in the best interest of the organization to move in a different direction. Nate and I have been through the good times and the bad times; and it was an honor to work with him for those 11 years (in Indiana and Portland).”

McMillan took over coaching duties of the Pacers prior to the 2016-17 season; and in his four years with the team he led them to a 183-136 record, including 3-16 in the playoffs. He has an overall coaching record of 661-588, with 17-36 in the playoffs. McMillan’s 183 wins as head coach of the Pacers is third in the team’s NBA history.

The search for a new coach will begin immediately.

On key injuries in the Pacers vs Heat series

We made it. The playoffs tip off today. Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on the injury situation ahead of the start of the Heat vs Pacers first round playoff series:

The Heat could be without one rotation player entering the series. Forward Derrick Jones Jr., who was expected to play off the bench, has not practiced since sustaining a neck strain in Friday’s loss to the Pacers to close the regular season. Rookie guard Gabe Vincent (right shoulder sprain) and rookie forward KZ Okpala (personal reasons) might also be unavailable for the start of the playoffs.

For the Pacers, they are without a starter. All-Star center Domantas Sabonis left the bubble and has not returned because of left foot plantar fasciitis. Also, Jeremy Lamb, who was a key contributor before his February injury, remains out because of a torn ACL. Warren is dealing with plantar fasciitis, but he said Sunday that he will be ready to play in Game 1.

The Pacers and Heat were incredibly close in the standings this season, with Indiana finishing 45-28 and Miami 44-29.

But Sabonis is definitely the best player on either team’s injury list.

Game 1 is tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET, televised on TNT.

Pacers agree to contract extension with head coach Nate McMillan

The Indiana Pacers have agreed to a contract extension with Head Coach Nate McMillan.

McMillan is currently in his fourth season as head coach after taking over the position in May 2016. He has compiled a 181-136 record with Indiana, and with the team’s next victory, will pass Rick Carlisle into third place in NBA franchise history for the most wins as head coach. Currently holding a record of 43-28 this season, the Pacers will appear in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season under McMillan’s leadership.

“What Nate has done in four seasons with our franchise merits this extension,” said President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “Between injuries and changes in personnel, he and his coaching staff have adapted and produced positive results. He also represents the franchise, the city and our state in a first-class manner.’’

Per the Indianapolis Star, “McMillan didn’t have Victor Oladipo until Jan. 29 as he recovered from right knee surgery and he’s still not 100%, lost his replacement, Jeremy Lamb, soon after to season-ending left leg injuries and top free-agent signing Malcolm Brogdon has been lost to various injuries that have cost him 18 games.”

Previously, McMillan served as Associate Head Coach of the Pacers from 2013-16 and helped guide the Pacers to two playoff appearances, including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013-14. He has served as head coach for 16 NBA seasons for the Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics, and currently ranks 22nd in NBA history for most head coaching victories (659-588).

More from The Star: “The Pacers are 43-28 and 5th in the conference. Last season, without Oladipo for half of it, they won 48 games before being swept in the first round. The previous season, the Pacers gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their toughest postseason test before losing in 7 to the eventual East champion with LeBron James.”

“I’d like to thank the Simon family, Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers organization for extending my contract during this unprecedented time in our country,” said McMillan. “I’m happy to have this opportunity and look forward to coaching this Pacers team into the future.”

Pacers fall to red-hot Suns, who have won four straight games

The Suns are hot. And not just because their team name is “the Suns.” And not because they’re in Florida in the summertime. But because they’re winning a lot lately. Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on Pacers play today in the Disney NBA bubble:

[The Indiana Pacers are] 3-1 and were held well under their 119.3 scoring average in their first three games, 114-99.

T.J. Warren (16 points, 11 rebounds) couldn’t keep up his torrid scoring pace against the team that traded him to Indiana last summer for cash considerations. He missed his first 4 shots and then went 6-for-8 before foul trouble cooled him off in the third quarter. He had been averaging 39+ points per game in the “bubble.”

Devin Booker (20 points, 10 assists) and DeAndre Ayton (23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks) were the primary threats, though the Pacers took a 75-72 lead on Justin Holiday’s 3. Cameron Payne (15 points) did them in during a 21-0 run.

It wasted a strong effort from Malcolm Brogdon (game-high 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) for Indiana.

In the win for the Suns, center Deandre Ayton had 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, Devin Booker had 20 points and 10 assists, Dario Saric had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Cameron Payne scored 15 off the bench, and starting forward Cameron Johnson had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis leaves Disney NBA campus for foot treatment

Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis will leave the NBA campus in Orlando to receive medical treatment for plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Sabonis’ availability to return to the campus in Orlando is yet to be determined.

Per the Indianapolis Star, “Sabonis hadn’t participated in practices in about eight days, and sat out the Pacers’ scrimmage on Thursday. Speaking to local media Wednesday, he said his foot had been bothering him since he arrived in Indiana, and it flared up once the team started playing 5-on-5 upon arriving in Orlando. Nate McMillan called it “day to day.”

Jeremy Lamb with Pacers in Orlando but still not playing until next season

The Pacers won’t have the services of Jeremy Lamb until next season, but he is in Orlando, working out as he heals from serious injury. Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting:

When the rest of the team was locked out, the St. Vincent Center was open to Jeremy Lamb. Because of his rehab after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee, Lamb was allowed access to the practice facility as he continued to work through his injury recovery.

Lamb suffered his knee injury Feb. 23. Just over two weeks later the NBA shut down its season. When basketball stopped for Lamb, so did it for the rest of the world. But for Lamb, he was progressing as he normally would.

“Because basketball had been postponed, no restaurants, nothing was open,” Lamb said. “So yeah, that definitely helped me kind of keep my mind off things rather than just sitting in the house, feeling down.”

Lamb, who is with the team in Orlando, continues to progress with his knee on the sidelines of Pacers practices. Lamb said he can take one-dribble jumpers, finish at the rim and make some cuts, but during practice he’s relegated mostly to the role of rebounder and passer if the team needs an extra one.

At 39-26, the Pacers are tied with the Sixers for the 5th best record in the Eastern conference.

Pacers reportedly taking small steps towards using practice facility

Some NBA teams are taking small steps towards increasing the use of their training facilities, in very limited fashion.

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on the Pacers:

The Indiana Pacers are starting to get players back at St. Vincent Center, a league source tells IndyStar, though most staff hasn’t been cleared to enter the building.

A return to business as usual is still a ways off, as are full practices.

“Full team activities will not resume without express permission from the NBA, and only in compliance with the executive orders issued by the State and the City or other clearance,” the Pacers said in a recent statement. “After consulting with the Mayor’s Office and their subsequent discussion with health officials, players can begin regulated individual therapy and training … while adhering to government and NBA guidance on social distancing and other health guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. Currently, we are following testing guidelines laid out by the State of Indiana.”

Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon now fully healed

There’s no pro basketball about to be played anytime soon, but here’s some good news on the Pacers front from the Indianapolis Star:

Malcolm Brogdon is ready to go if the NBA season resumes. Saturday, the Indiana Pacers posted a video from their starting point guard on their social media accounts that he’s fully healed from a hip/thigh injury that kept him out the last three games before the hiatus because of COVID-19.

“I’m doing great. I’ve been doing as much as I can under this quarantine but I’m 100%,” Brogdon said in the video. “I’ve been on my Peleton bike and I’ve been running hills in my backyard.”

The Pacers were 39-26 when league play was put on hold in mid March.

Pacers salary cap situation looks to be in good shape

When the NBA season paused, the Pacers were 39-26, which ties them with the Sixers for the 5th best record in the Eastern conference. Impressive, especially considering guard Victor Oladipo had just recently returned to action, and in 13 games played wasn’t up to his usual standards just yet.

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on their salary cap situation:

No one knows where the NBA is heading because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what’s clear is the projected $115 million salary cap could shift downward as teams are preparing for the worst-case scenarios. The Indiana Pacers, who have the 27th highest payroll of the league’s 30 teams, are expected to drop to the league’s lowest payroll.

That’s because the Pacers have received $10 million insurance on Victor Oladipo, a league source tells IndyStar. Oladipo tore his right quad knee tendon in January 2019 and missed most of the season. He returned this season past the midway point to appear in 13 games.

The Pacers’ cap number is $114.6 million for 2019-20 and they’re positioned to come in at $104.6 million due to Oladipo’s injury, well below the current 30th payroll of the Atlanta Hawks ($112.3 million).

There is no reason to expect the NBA to resume play anytime soon, as the world focuses on fighting coronavirus. Hopefully in the coming weeks, that view may begin to change.