Jeremy Lamb's Rehab Progressing in Orlando

July 20, 2020 - Despite being out for the season, Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb elected to join his teammates in the NBA bubble. Lamb and coach Nate McMillan discuss his rehab.

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Jeremy Lamb's Rehab Progressing in Orlando

July 20, 2020 - Despite being out for the season, Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb elected to join his teammates in the NBA bubble. Lamb and coach Nate McMillan discuss his rehab.
Jul 20, 2020  |  02:13

McMillan Gives Injury Update as Pacers Prepare for Scrimmages

July 19, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan revealed which players are dealing with soft-tissue injuries and T.J. McConnell and T.J. Warren looked ahead to Indiana's first scrimmage in Orlando on Thursday.
Jul 19, 2020  |  02:45

Pacers Having Fun After First Week in Bubble

July 17, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players Doug McDermott and Aaron Holiday share their takeaways after the first week of practice at the NBA bubble in Orlando.
Jul 17, 2020  |  01:43

Brogdon Recovered, Back at Practice

July 16, 2020 - Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and head coach Nate McMillan discuss Brogdon's recovery from COVID-19, why he is wearing a mask at practice, and life in the NBA bubble.
Jul 16, 2020  |  02:06

McMillan, Brogdon on Team Discussions on Social Injustice

July 16, 2020 - Nate McMillan discusses a team screening of the documentary "13th" and Malcolm Brogdon reflects on discussion among the players about social injustice.
Jul 16, 2020  |  02:11

Oladipo: There's a Strong Possibility I Might Play

July 15, 2020 - Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo explains why he is reconsidering his decision to sit out the 2019-20 NBA season restart after participating in practices with the team in Orlando.
Jul 15, 2020  |  02:14

Myles Turner Feeling Comfortable Back on Court

July 13, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan discusses Myles Turner's growth during the 2019-20 season and four-month hiatus and then Turner shares his thoughts on being back on the practice court in Orlando.
Jul 13, 2020  |  01:58

McMillan, Sabonis on Pacers' Conditioning

July 12, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and forward Domantas Sabonis discuss the Pacers' fitness level after holding their first two practices in fourth months.
Jul 12, 2020  |  02:36

Pacers Come Out of Quarantine for First Practice

July 11, 2020 - After a 48-hour quarantine after arriving at the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players T.J. Warren and T.J. McConnell spoke with the media following the team's first practice in four months.
Jul 11, 2020  |  02:26

Reboot Could Allow Pacers to Turn Over a New Leaf

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Last we heard from TJ Leaf he was...well, he wasn't making any noise whatsoever. He hopes the reboot of the NBA season enables him to have a say in the remainder of the Pacers' season.

Leaf, frankly, was having the least influential of his three NBA seasons when the league shut down in March. He had played in just four of the Pacers' 31 games in the calendar year for a total of 17 minutes and had little hope of gaining a foothold in the playing rotation unless injuries opened an opportunity.

It turns out that opportunity could come within the bubble in Orlando, where the Pacers find themselves shorthanded at center and with a particular former first-round draft pick standing by still eager to make something of himself, even if it is at an unintended position.

"I like the way he looks," coach Nate McMillan said on a video conference call with media members on Monday. "He'll get that opportunity."

Starting big man Domantas Sabonis will miss Thursday's first exhibition game against Portland and perhaps the other two with plantar fasciitis. Rookie center Goga Bitadze has missed most of the practice time to this point but is expected to be available on Thursday. McMillan wants to spread playing time during the exhibitions to keep players as healthy and fresh as possible for the regular season and playoff games, so that leaves a hole — at least temporarily — in the middle.

Leaf isn't your prototypical NBA center at 6-foot-10, 225 pounds, but then the definition of a prototypical NBA center isn't what it used to be. He's been playing it with the second unit in practice in Orlando and has played it some in games this season. There was some question whether Leaf could play small forward when the Pacers drafted him with the 18th overall pick in 2017, but as the league has evolved and his 3-point shot has faded, he's now leaning the other direction from his most suitable position at power forward.

"Not a lot of teams are throwing into the post the whole game, other than to a select few elite fives," Leaf said. "A lot of (playing center) is just guarding pick and roll and at the opposite end it's being involved in pick and roll."

Leaf had played in 25 of the Pacers' 65 games when their season was suspended. He was averaging 2.7 points, matching his rookie norm, and playing fewer minutes (7.7 per game) and shooting worse from the field (.435) than in either of his first two seasons.

He had some highlights, though, and some of the best ones came when he played center. He scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Chicago on Nov. 3 while playing many of his 22 minutes in the middle and had 12 points and seven rebounds at Houston on Nov. 15 in nearly 16 minutes.

While his 3-point percentage (.357) isn't nearly what it was as a rookie or in his only season at UCLA, his rebounding has been a pleasant surprise. He is the Pacers' second-best rebounder behind Sabonis on a per-minute basis, averaging 11.9 over 36 minutes.

"I just want to be ready when my number is called," he said. That's been a familiar refrain of the past three seasons, but one that includes a legitimate degree of hope for at least the upcoming exhibition games.

Leaf spent most of the lockdown in the Tampa area, about a 90-minute drive from Orlando. He didn't have access to a gym for the first month, but says he ran and lifted weights until he could do something with a basketball again.

He had plenty of time to work on his fishing skills, something he's been able to show off in the NBA bubble. He's gone with Malcolm Brogdon a couple of times and has instructed a few other teammates as well.

Two-way player Naz Mitrou-Long has been a special project.

"My boy Naz, I caught one and he wouldn't even touch it," Leaf said. "For whatever reason. I don't know why."

Lamb Progressing

Jeremy Lamb hasn't played since Feb. 23, when he shredded his left knee in a game at Toronto and he won't be playing the rest of the season. But he's in Orlando, rehabilitating while his teammates prepare for the resumption of the season.

"I didn't want to be in Indiana by myself," he said. It's good energy for me, it's helping me progress even more, mentally as well.

"Seeing how good they're playing is very inspiring."

Lamb suffered a torn ACL, torn lateral meniscus, and fractured knee while landing awkwardly on his knee while taking a routine foul on a breakaway layup attempt in Toronto. The ACL is the major part in need of more repair. Lamb said he hasn't been told when he might be able to play in a game again, but there appears to be little chance of it happening this season no matter how far the Pacers advance in the playoffs.

"I'm about four months post-surgery, so I don't even ask," he said. "I don't want a target date, I just want to take it one day at a time. I don't want to look forward to a date because I think it will (feel like) it will take longer. By me just taking it day by day it's been going along a lot faster that way."

Lamb, who averaged 12.5 points in 46 games before he was injured in the first quarter at Toronto, was allowed to use the Pacers' practice facilities and training personnel at St. Vincent Center during the lockdown because of his injury. He works to strengthen his knee while his teammates practice in Orlando, although has been called on to help with drills by rebounding and passing.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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