Pacers set opening day roster, waive Jeremy Evans and Julyan Stone

Jeremy Evans appeared in just two of six Pacers preseason games.

Jeremy Evans appeared in just two of six Pacers preseason games.

The Pacers finalized their opening day roster late Sunday, hours after their FanJam had ended at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Having already waived rookies Alex Poythress and Nick Zeisloft late last week, the Pacers needed to make two more cuts to set their 15-man roster by Monday’s deadline. Forward Jeremy Evans and guard Julyan Stone were the final players waived.

[Click here to see the Pacers’ Depth Chart]

Letting go of Stone, who’s been in the league for four years but unable to latch on with any team, was no surprise. He at least received $50,000 in guaranteed money to be part of camp. He is expected to join Poythress and Zeisloft in Fort Wayne to play in the Development League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Evans, meanwhile, was the obvious final choice to be cut but it wasn’t an easy call. It simply came down to availability, and Evans, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in March, is not yet 100 percent.

At media day, back on Sept. 26, head coach Nate McMillan had this to say on Evans’ situation:

“Jeremy Evans is still rehabbing and is not on the court playing right now. It’s a possibility that he may not be ready to, certainly he won’t be ready for training camp, and I would say maybe not even ready for the start of the season.”

Evans and others worked on 3s after a recent practice.

Evans and others worked on 3s after a recent practice.

During the first week of camp, he rode a stationary bike during the small portion at the end of practice when media was allowed to observe. Later, Evans hurried to get himself ready, enough to play in two games, though he did not score.

In talking with Evans, the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, recently, he explained how he still needed time to get completely healthy — and how if not for the numbers game when it comes to roster spots, he would have taken a more cautious approach to returning to contact work.

“Probably so just because I feel I still have a ways to go,” Evans shared. “Even just getting out here, it’s been what, seven months, maybe, just building confidence. Every day my confidence is getting stronger. But it is what it is.

“Everybody knows the roster is set at 15 and that somebody has to go. That’s the business of the game. I just wanted to come out and work. This is what I do. My shoulder is close so I can still get out there and push, and hopefully stay away from injury.”

The 6-7 forward is lengthy but not bulky, sizing up to 200 pounds. He has trouble defending and he’s not a 3-point threat, 6-for-26 (23.1 percent) all-time in the NBA. What did excite him was the fast tempo style that coach McMillan and staff were implementing.

“Ah, man. It’s something I dreamed of,” Evans said. “Lot of teams stop the ball and walk it up. I’m a guy that runs the floor and I love to run. I feel like this is perfect for me if I’m able to stick. There’s so many things that I think I could do here.”

[VIDEOS: VIDEOS: Niang, Mikhailau, Dather, Bartling in FanJam Rookie Show]

Coach McMillan, his staff, and team scouts know Evans’ game since he’s been in the league since 2010. That helped in the evaluation process.

“He started playing late for us and really only got a few minutes the other night,” McMillan said in response to whether he has seen enough of Evans to know what he could be. “I’ve seen him, I know what he’s capable of doing. But he hasn’t had a lot of reps wit the team due to his injury.”

McMillan said Sunday afternoon that he planned to meet with President Larry Bird and General Manager Kevin Pritchard regarding this final roster move.

NBA teams may send up to four players from their training camp rosters to their D-League affiliate. Therefore, Stone, Poythress, and Zeisloft will play in Fort Wayne. Having them participate in an NBA training camp is special for the players, gives them the best chance to learn the Pacers’ system, and it allows the team to get an up-close look at each guy.

In total, the Pacers spent $1,337,667 in guarantees for the four training camp players waived.

Evans arrived in Indiana after Dallas traded his rights, plus enough cash to pay his salary, plus $2 million, in order to clear salary space. So, despite being waived, Evans will receive $1,227,286 in guaranteed money.

Based on his social media posts, it appears he settled down comfortably in an Indianapolis home.

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