Wanamaker Excited for Opportunity with Pacers

Oct. 7, 2021 - Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle and guard Brad Wanamaker spoke with the media following Thursday's practice.

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Wanamaker Excited for Opportunity with Pacers

Oct. 7, 2021 - Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle and guard Brad Wanamaker spoke with the media following Thursday's practice.
Oct 7, 2021  |  02:16

Late Arrival Wanamaker Embraces "Honest Chance" to Make Roster

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Brad Wanamaker is used to being the underdog. The 6-3 guard went undrafted out of Pitt in 2011 and didn't reach the NBA for seven years.

But Wanamaker never gave up on his dreams. He filled up his passport traveling across Europe, playing for clubs in Italy, France, Germany, and Turkey, earning All-Star selections and helping his clubs in championships in several different leagues.

Eventually it was enough to impress NBA teams. Wanamaker signed with the Celtics in July 2018 and made Boston's roster that fall. He spent two seasons playing for Brad Stevens, averaging 5.9 points and 2.2 assists over 107 games. He signed with Golden State prior to last season and appeared in 39 games for the Warriors before being traded midseason to Charlotte, where he played in 22 more games for the Hornets.

But Wanamaker, who turned 32 in July, found himself back in a familiar position this offseason. Without an NBA offer, he was working out at home in Philadelphia when training camps started last week. A little over a week later, an opportunity presented itself in Indiana.

The Pacers traded Edmond Sumner, who is out for the year with a torn left Achilles tendon, to Brooklyn along with a conditional second-round pick. Indiana got the draft rights to Juan Pablo Vaulet, but the real significance of the deal was that it opened up a spot on the Pacers' 15-man roster. The Pacers then signed Wanamaker to a training camp deal, where he will have the chance to compete for that open spot.

"It's an honest chance of me being able to come and compete for a roster spot," Wanamaker said. "Wherever it may be, whatever role that may be, I think it's an honest chance of me being able to come and compete."

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle has expressed a desire to have a third point guard on the team behind starter Malcolm Brogdon and backup T.J. McConnell. While others like rookie Chris Duarte and injured starter Caris LeVert are capable of running the point, Carlisle would prefer to have another option capable of filling in for Brogdon or McConnell if needed.

On paper, Wanamaker is an ideal fit for that role.

"He's an NBA player," Carlisle said Thursday following Wanamaker's first practice with the team. "He's had a lot of good runs in this league. He did a great job today...It was as if he's been here the whole time. He really blended in. He's a physical guard who can shoot it, he's a good cutter, he's a good defender. There's an opportunity here."

But it won't be handed to him. He will compete with others, primarily Keifer Sykes, who is also on a training camp contract, and was the third-team point guard in Tuesday's preseason opener in New York.

Because he joined the team late, Wanamaker has had a crash course in the Pacers' system over the past few days. The team was off on Wednesday, but he was in the Ascension St. Vincent Center working with the Pacers' coaching staff and interns, then on the practice floor with his new teammates on Thursday.

He spoke with the local media for the first time after practice, just before catching the team flight to Cleveland, and was asked if he could see the floor in Friday's exhibition.

"I believe so," he said with a smile. "I'm ready. I'm ready to go. So we'll see."

Assistant coach Mike Weinar has been tasked with giving Wanamaker a crash course in the Pacers' offensive system, while fellow assistant Lloyd Pierce has spoken with him about defensive principles.

"I think (my game) will fit in great," Wanamaker said. "Just the way they play, the new offense, the pace, it compliments my game pretty well. I'm excited to get out there and show what I can do."

Wanamaker also has a preexisting relationship with another Pacer assistant, Ronald Nored, who coached him in Charlotte last season. The two met years prior, when Nored and Butler knocked off top-seeded Pitt in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, ending Wanamaker's college career.

"Obviously our relationship has grown since Pitt played Butler," Wanamaker joked on Thursday. "I didn't like him then, but he's cool now."

Wanamaker won't have long to try to make an impression with the Pacers. Indiana has just three preseason games remaining and Carlisle will likely ramp up minutes for the starters as the regular season nears.

"It's a challenge," Wanamaker admitted on Thursday, but it's also one he embraces. If there's anything he learned from his long journey to the NBA, it's that he won't give up easily.

"Just the underdog mentality, always having to fight for what you want," he said. "I'm just here to fight and compete and try to impress the coaches."

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