Wilkins earns final spot as Pacers trim roster to 14

With the preseason schedule complete for NBA teams, they have spent the weekend finalizing their rosters ahead of opening week. Officially, the season opens Tuesday night with an intriguing double-header showcased on TNT: Boston at Cleveland, followed by Houston at Golden State.

Then on Wednesday, the rest of the league tips off another season.

The Pacers brought 20 players to training camp, the maximum allowed by the NBA. 13 had guaranteed contracts and two more (Edmond Sumner and Alex Poythress) are on two-way deals, meaning the remaining five players were competing for two spots with the Pacers … and to show their worth for the other 29 teams.

Jarrod Uthoff shooting before media day responsibilities.

Just as it is with Summer League play in July.

Kevin Pritchard, in his first year as the Pacers President of Basketball Operations, ultimately kept two — guard Damien Wilkins and forward Jarrod Uthoff, the final player added to camp.

The Pacers waived DeQuan Jones, Trey McKinney-Jones, and rookie Ben Moore on Saturday.

Team officials likely are not done tinkering with the roster, though.

At media day, I asked Pritchard about the chances of Uthoff and Moore sticking on the roster, or if it was more likely for them to end up in the G League with the Mad Ants.

“I’m not saying that,” he said. “Ben, Jarrod, they’ve had really good time here. The one thing I can tell you is I’m going in with a clean slate.

“I want to see who proves themself on the court because if you come out here, you work hard in the summer, and you prove that you can belong, then we have two open roster spots. We can be flexible with that.

Rookie Ben Moore had 6 pts and 4 rebs in a preseason loss in Detroit.

“Ben has had a terrific summer. He’s really impressed everybody in this gym. We think he could be an NBA player. An NBA defender first, and then if he can improve his shooting, he could be a Bruce Bowen type.”

McKinney-Jones is expected in Fort Wayne. He was limited in camp due to a left shoulder injury.

Wilkins played in all four tune-up games, filling in for the injured Glenn Robinson III, and averaged 7.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Uthoff, meanwhile, averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds over two contests.

Pritchard on Wilkins, the 37-year-old veteran who has been out of the league since 2013: “A veteran presence, he calms everybody down, he keeps everybody in calm waters. He can still play, too.”

And while Wilkins and Uthoff are on their roster for now, they still have to earn their spot every day. The Pacers have been watching the waiver wire closely.

See the team Sunday at their annual FanJam.

2 Responses to Wilkins earns final spot as Pacers trim roster to 14
  1. Kevin
    October 15, 2017 | 8:06 pm

    As an admitted Hawkeye homer, I truly think Uthoff has an unusual skill set that would be useful to any team that gives him an actual chance. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that chance will never come. And as a person who doesn’t like the playground game that the NBA has become, I think I’m done watching.

    • Scott Agness
      October 15, 2017 | 11:49 pm

      Right now, opportunity is the challenge. The Pacers signed him on media day and he appeared in just two games. We didn’t see enough of him to evaluate his play. Coach McMillan admitted as much.

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