It may not be Isaiah Thomas, but a fellow former Boston Celtics point guard has indeed found a new NBA home. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Indiana Pacers are signing free agent Brad Wanamaker to a training camp deal.
The 32-year-old University of Pittsburgh product spent two seasons with the Celtics. His most prolific campaign in Beantown — which also happened to be his last — came in 2019-20, where Wanamaker averaged 6.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 19 minutes per game.
He spent the early part of last season as a backup to Stephen Curry in Golden State. However, he was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets ahead of the trade deadline after falling out of Steve Kerr’s rotation for the Warriors. In 22 games with the Hornets, Wanamaker tied a personal-best in scoring (6.9 points) on 42.3% shooting from the field. His 19.5 minutes per game and 3.4 assists average both marked new career highs for the Philadelphia native.
In total, Wanamaker has averaged 5.7 points, 2.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds across 168 career NBA games (one start). The journeyman guard will look to extend his playing career in Indiana, where he’ll likely compete with Keifer Sykes for the team’s third point guard slot behind starter Malcolm Brogdon and backup T.J. McConnell.
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From former Celtics guards to current Celtics guards, Boston has a handful of starting-caliber backcourt players at their disposal that may ultimately be forced to come off the bench this season. Depending on how Ime Udoka opts to deploy his starting unit, players like Dennis Schroder, Payton Pritchard and Josh Richardson could all be part of the team’s second unit.
It doesn’t end there. Brad Stevens’ ability to bolster Boston’s depth throughout the majority of the roster this offseason leaves the Celtics with a flurry of proven commodities at their disposal. Yet, while Udoka admits that he’d like to trim his rotation down some, he expects that “It’ll play itself out to some extent in training camp and preseason.”
“We feel comfortable with 10-12 of our guys. It’s just a matter of game-by-game, scheme and coverage and who we’re guarding and who we’re playing … it’s hard to play 12 guys, obviously, every night,” he said via Celtics Blog. “Nine to ten is a more manageable number and so that’s where the competition lies and how they’ll play in the games, and what we’re seeing in practice.”
Udoka Talks Horford, Frontcourt
One of the positions Udoka will need to settle on in the coming weeks is at power forward. Offseason acquisition Al Horford is expected to man the gig next to Robert Williams in the frontcourt. However, the Celtics threw us a bit of a curveball in the preseason opener, opting to instead start Juancho Hernangomez. Udoka touched on the presence of Enes Kanter as well as the possibility of Grant Williams playing alongside Horford in certain looks as a way to help space the floor.
“We’ve had several different lineups here, big and small. We’ve seen Al with Rob quite a bit, and they’re doing a great job,” said Udoka. “it’s more so seeing the young guys with those groups. We’ll see Al in those starting lineups as well in the preseason as well… he has a contrasting style to some of our other bigs, and so we wanted to stagger that as well and have him be a stretch five when he’s in there as opposed to Enes and Robert. So we’re looking at that as well to see who works in different positions at the five, but when we can slide him to the four, we know what he’s going to do as well. Space the floor, be a post-up threat and be a great initiator of the offense.”