With training camp beginning in a matter of days, the Indiana Pacers added to their roster, signing veteran forward James Johnson.
Johnson, a 13-year veteran drafted back in 2009, will be the oldest player on Indiana's roster at 35 years of age. He spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets, where he averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
The Pacers lack players who can naturally play the power forward position. Oshae Brissett projects to be the backup at the position, and he excels as a four man. But everyone else slated to get minutes at the position — Jalen Smith, the Pacers-named starter at the power forward spot, Terry Taylor, and Isaiah Jackson — have skills that are more typical of centers in the modern NBA.
Johnson helps Indiana in that area. Power forward is his most natural position, so if the Pacers are fighting the injury bug or are in need of help at the position during the season, he could be a candidate to get some minutes.
Before any of that, though, he needs to actually make the roster. He could still be waived before the season starts if the Pacers opt to use the roster spot on a different player. Out of all the players that the blue and gold signed for training camp, Johnson has the most experience and is the best fit on the wing.
After inking Johnson and several others to contracts on Friday, the Pacers roster is now full with 20 players. If they want to add more talent to their team — either different training camp bodies or established veterans — they would have to waive a player.
Johnson's best seasons were roughly half a decade ago with the Miami Heat, but he showed last season that on his best nights he is still a capable NBA player. Where he will provide the most value to the Pacers is in the locker room. He has played in nearly 750 NBA games, and he reached the conference finals in 2016 with the Toronto Raptors. He can provide leadership and teachings for a younger Pacers team.
Johnson played for Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle in Dallas for 29 games during the 2020-21 season. That familiarity could go a long way toward Johnson fitting in well in Indiana.
Training camp begins for the Indiana Pacers later this month, with media day set to occur in less than 10 days.
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