At the time of writing this, the Indiana Pacers have played seven regular season games, with the most recent one being a blowout win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday to get Rick Carlisle his 900th win as an NBA head coach. It was such a big win that Indiana emptied their bench in the fourth quarter to get everyone on their team some playing time. Everyone except for one player: Daniel Theis.
Theis has also been absent from every single one of Indiana’s regular season games so far this season and only played one of Indiana’s four preseason games.
He has expressed his frustration recently about being absent from Indiana’s rotation altogether, despite coming off a very successful summer. (Via Brian Robb of MassLive)
Not playing in the regular season has come off as a pretty big surprise for Theis, who is coming off a successful 2023 FIBA World Cup, where he played a major part in helping Germany win the gold medal.
He contributed steadily through group play and the medal games, including a dominant 21-point, five-rebound effort against Tyrese Haliburton and Team USA.
With Theis coming off a monumental achievement for himself and his country, it is understandable why the 31-year-old is dissatisfied with riding the bench as Indiana plays the likes of Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson over him.
However, it does have to be said that the big men ahead of Theis in the rotation have not exactly made it easy for their playing time to get reduced, with Jalen Smith, in particular, stepping up and playing some fantastic basketball.
He is averaging 11.2 points while shooting an absurd 73.7% from the field and a league-leading 66.7% from beyond the arc.
Isaiah Jackson has also made his mark in the rotation, especially against San Antonio, where he blocked a Victor Wembanyama dunk en route to a very solid performance for the third-year big man.
Jackson has had his fair share of doubters, especially this year, with his name also coming up in trade discussions for the Pacers due to the sheer amount of talent on the team and the lack of minutes to be evenly distributed for everybody.
However, I do think Jackson has earned a spot in the rotation going forward with his play on Monday, and I do not think the Pacers should give up on a 21-year-old with very clear potential as a defender and lob threat.
With Smith’s monumental improvement over the previous season and Jackson’s obvious potential still shining through at times, there really is no place for a guy like Daniel Theis on this team.
At 31 years old, Daniel Theis is the second-oldest player on the Pacers, behind TJ McConnell (who has a clear role on the team), and there is no place for a guy of his age and skill set to be wasting his time on the Pacers bench when he could be giving a contending team productive minutes.
The Indiana Pacers have a clear direction going forward, and with all the players seemingly coming together in harmony to make for some beautiful team chemistry, there is no use to have a guy like Theis sitting on the bench watching them play.
The Pacers should look to ship Daniel Theis off to a contender or buy him out to free up space for a project player. After all, he has only played seven games in a Pacers uniform, and that number does not look to be increasing anytime soon.