Pacers Plan to Utilize D-League This Year

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by Scott Agness

October 29, 2012

With the regular season set to begin and the Pacers' lineups basically set, one can only wonder where the final pieces fit in.

The starters from the end of last season remain intact and Pacers officials upgraded the second unit with three new pieces: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi. That's why this year, for the first time, the Pacers plan to utilize the NBA Development League.

"(Ben Hansbrough), Orlando (Johnson) and Miles (Plumlee) are just depth on our team right now," Coach Vogel explained Monday after practice. "They are not in the everyday playing rotation. They got to work to stay ready. They'll probably all see some time in the D-League this year just to keep them sharp. If we have injuries, they'll play."

The Pacers decision to use the D-League isn't a philosophy change, but more a recognition of the team's talent level.

"We haven't had a veteran team like this where our rookies aren't going to be in the rotation. In the past, our rookies were rotation guys so they needed to be here with us as much as possible."

Pacers President Donnie Walsh added that with the team on the road so often early in the season—like a four-game West Coast trip at the end of November—he'd rather see them get time on the court with the Pacers D-League affiliate, the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. He also expects to have the guys around for home stretches and when the Mad Ants are away.

"I don't think it's become a complete commitment that we'll do it any one way, but that's the intention," Walsh said. "We've got a lot of guys back from last year or people we depend on a lot to be playing. There isn't going to be a lot of room early for them to play. It will be good for them to play. It could be a confidence-builder."

Miles Plumlee, the Pacers 26th overall pick, was short about the idea after practice, but he understood it's the nature of being a late draft pick on a contending team.

"It's all about getting better," said Plumlee. "We got a really stacked team and we're going to be really good this year, so you got to stay sharp."

Ben Hansbrough made the team, for now, with a non-guaranteed contract. He is the last man on the roster so his spot is essentially the insurance policy, according to Vogel. Should a player at another position get injured or an intriguing name come up on the waiver wire, Hansbrough would be out.

"We'll see what happens," Hansbrough said. "I'm still young, this is my second year as a professional so I want to keep on improving and try to have the best career possible."

Mark Montieth contributed to this story.

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