Fotis Katsikaris aiding Pacers’ Summer League team

Greek National Team coach Fotis Katsikaris was invited to help coach the Pacers' Summer League team.

Greek National Team coach Fotis Katsikaris (right) was invited to help coach the Pacers’ Summer League team.

If you’ve caught any of the Indiana Pacers game in the Orlando Summer League, you may have wondered who the unfamiliar person was sitting on the team bench.

Well, for one, one of the great things about this time of year is teams giving young, less experienced staff members an opportunity. We’re seeing that with assistant video coordinator Jhared Simpson and intern Dru Anthrop. Even assistant trainer Carl Eaton is at the end of the bench, taking over head duties.

In Las Vegas, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon will coach their team, becoming the first female head coach in Summer League history. Lindsey Harding, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft, will be a guest assistant coach with the Raptors.

Along the same lines, the Pacers invited Fotis Katsikaris, the Greek National Team coach, to help them during free agent/rookie camp and with their Summer League team. (In previous years, a coach from their D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, has helped out.)

“It’s a great experience working with great coaches like Coach Burke, who’s an unbelievable coach, like coach McMillan, like coach Jones,” Katsikaris told me. “In basketball we always say it’s a worldwide thing. It can be the same everywhere. But you always have to be open to learn things and for me it was a great opportunity.

[Pacers 2015 rookie/free agent camp roster]

Katsikaris, 48, had called Spain home for last 10 years and has coached a number of teams. He was named the Eurocup Coach of the Year in 2013, and last year was named the head coach of Greek’s National Team.

Longtime assistant Dan Burke is directing their summer squad, and he first met Katsikaris in early June at the adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy. Katsikaris is a regular attendee at the camp, which was previously run by Pete Philo, the Pacers’ Director of International Scouting.

Katsikaris has never been a coach for a NBA Summer League team, but he did previously observe Pacers camp back in 2006.

“I felt comfortable in Indianapolis,” he said. “I really like the city.”

While Burke is a defensive mastermind, Katsikaris’ speciality is offense. The two are exchanging ideas and learning from each other.

“I want him talking,” Burke said of Katsikaris. “He stopped play a couple of times. He seems like he’s a real smart offensive tactician. I have to keep reminding him that we don’t have six days of practice like you guys do.”

[Myles Turning heads at Summer League]

Katsikaris has worked with four current NBA players: Nick Calathes, Kosta Koufos, Kostas Papanikolaou, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He plans to take a number of drills and tactics to his National Team, among other takeaways.

“The way this group works is very demanding with all the details that every players needs to know.”

The Pacers are 0-3 in Summer League action, but rookies Myles Turner and Joe Young are two of the top five scorers in the 10-team league.

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