Insider: How Pacers replace guard T.J. McConnell, who is out indefinitely with wrist injury

·3 min read
Indiana Pacers' T.J. McConnell (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in New York.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The injury woes continue for the Pacers.

T.J. McConnell was limited to just three minutes in Indiana's controversial 114-111 home loss against the Hawks on Monday night due to a sore right wrist. He did not dress for practice Thursday, and Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said his team's backup point guard will be sidelined for an extended period.

"We'll have an update on him (Friday) or the next day. He's gonna be out for a while," Carlisle said. "But in terms of specifics, don't have any specifics on description, timetable, any of that."

McConnell is averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game, primarily off the bench. He had a breakout 2020-21 season, averaging a career-high 8.6 points, 6.6 assists and finishing second in steals at 1.9 per game.

The Pacers have shuffled lineups all season due to injuries and illnesses. Caris LeVert missed eight games as he recovered from a stress fracture in his back, and Justin Holiday recently tested positive for COVID-19, a source close to the team told IndyStar. He is currently in the NBA's health and safety protocols.

In McConnell's absence, Indiana's third-string point guard Brad Wanamaker will see his role significantly increase. He had seven points, four assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes Wednesday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Wanamaker, who has appeared in 12 of a possible 24 games this season, said he's kept himself "mentally and physically ready" for whenever his number is called.

"It's tough (not playing every game)," Wanamaker said. "Obviously we fortunate enough to be in the NBA, but once you get here you want to play. So a lot of people think you're just happy to be here and to just be on the roster, but obviously every player want to play. So it's tough, you have your good days, your bad days, but you come in here (to the practice facility) and this is your place where you clear your mind a little bit.

"I've been working with some of the coaches, trying to stay in condition and game-like stuff. And obviously the opportunity is here now, just gotta make some plays and try to do well."

Wanamaker, who clawed his way to the NBA after playing several years overseas, is averaging 3.8 points and 2.1 assists per game in his first season with the Pacers. He went through a five-game stretch last month in which he didn't play at all, but when Carlisle pulled him off the bench and ended that DNP streak, Wanamaker responded with a season-high 12 points in a 121-118 loss at Charlotte on Nov. 19.

His first chance to step up as the clear backup point guard is Friday when Indiana hosts the Heat.

"He's showed us that he's ready. He's kept himself ready," Carlisle said. "He played really well in that game at Charlotte a week and a half ago. He's a veteran, knows our system, knows our strengths. And so he's gonna be an important part of the picture here."

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers: How to replace guard T.J. McConnell, out with wrist injury

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