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INDIANAPOLIS — Nate Hinton was in Philadelphia with the Pacers and prepared to play in their final two games of the season. But then he tested positive for Covid-19 and entered the NBA's healthy and safety protocol on Friday.

"He's on a van going back to Indiana," Carlisle said before the Pacers' loss to the 76ers with only nine players available.

This is a tough break for the young guard. He just signed a two-way contract with the Pacers on Thursday (April 7) and was expected to get playing time considering the number of injuries on the Pacers.

Hinton got the call up from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at the end of December when the Pacers had five players and some staff members in the protocol. He signed a 10-day contract then via the hardship exception.

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"The second time is nothing like the first so I got to make it count," Hinton said after practice on Thursday. "I'm just thankful, learning everything each time I would come back up — from preseason, to a 10-day and to now — continuing to learn to become a better professional."

Hinton, 22, went undrafted in 2020 and then signed with the Carlisle-coached Dallas Mavericks. He played 21 games last season, and has appeared in two games this season — both with the Pacers.

Before the season, he signed an Exhibit 10 contract to join the Pacers a few week before training camp to reunite with Carlisle in Indy. That's been helpful because of the familiar.

"It's kind of like having part of the answers to the test," Hinton said. "I've seen him through the fire and in different situations so it's comforting and helping me. I can take a step forward and take leaps in my development because I know what's expected of me and how to prepare myself."

The Pacers (25-56) close out the season Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn.