Hansbrough reconnects with Pacers as part of Mad Ants NBA veteran seeking to renew his pro career
Tyler Hansbrough looks almost exactly the same as he did when he was charging up Indiana Pacers fans and opponents in his “Psycho T” heyday.
He hasn’t played in a pro basketball game since last season, so how quickly he can log significant playing time remains to be seen.
He looks like he can. He believes he can.
“I know my body,” Hansbrough said after his first workout Thursday with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. “I’ve been playing basketball long enough to know I’m ready to step in and play. I feel like I’m in about as good of shape as I’ve been in, so I’m ready.”
Hansbrough, picked up by Fort Wayne in the NBA Development League available player pool on Wednesday, will be in uniform when the Mad Ants play Westchester at 7 tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey spent Thursday’s time at the ASH Centre going over sets and the foundation of the Fort Wayne offense with Hansbrough.
Gansey liked what he saw initially.
“The picture I had in my mind of what he would look like is pretty exact, which I’m pretty happy with,” Gansey said. “Anybody who doesn’t play for a year, especially professionally, there will be a little bit of a grace period. Hopefully, it’s not a big one.”
Hansbrough, 31, drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the first round out of the University of North Carolina in 2009, has played seven seasons in the NBA. He’s 6-foot-9, so he brings size and a reputation for mixing it up on the interior.
The Mad Ants (21-15), who acquired former NBA guard Marquis Teague on Thursday, have been looking to strengthen the roster for the final 14 games.
“We’re still trying to make the playoffs, but from my experience in making the playoffs, you want a guy who can be a physical presence inside who can guard, rebound, set screens,” Gansey said. “The Pacers are interested in looking at Tyler, and so are we.”
Hansbrough played four seasons with the Pacers, two with Toronto and one with Charlotte, but was not picked up in free agency this past offseason. He has averaged 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 428 NBA games. He averaged 11 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in his best season with the Pacers in 2010-11.
“I just want to play basketball,” Hansbrough said. “I didn’t feel like going overseas at this time. I wanted to be in the NBA, but I’m not. This is the opportunity and I want to play.
“The good thing about playing around the league for seven years, a lot of teams have the same sets and speak the same language,” Hansbrough said. “I can come in here and try to learn it and pick it up and I know some of the offense. Also, in the D-League, guys come and go, so it’s kind of designed where offenses are a little simplistic so guys can come in right away and learn and get the feel for it.”
Hansbrough didn’t get to pick his own D-League team, but he said he is happy to land with the Pacers-owned franchise. <br>
<center> Trade for Teague </center><br>
The Mad Ants acquired former NBA point guard Marquis Teague, a 6-2 native of Indianapolis, in a trade with Oklahoma City Blue. Fort Wayne sent a first-round pick in the 2017 draft to Oklahoma City in exchange for Teague and a third-round pick.
Teague, who played for the University of Kentucky, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2012, and was later traded to the Brooklyn Nets. He has appeared in 88 NBA games, averaging 2.3 points per game. He most recently played with a team in Russia. His brother, Jeff, plays with the Indiana Pacers. <br>
<center> Ron Howard Jersey Retirement </center><br>
The Mad Ants will retire the No. 19 jersey of “Mr. Mad Ant” Ron Howard at halftime of tonight’s game.
Howard played 247 regular-season games, averaging 17.5 points per game and leading the Mad Ants to the 2014 NBA D-League championship. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award that season. He holds a number of franchise records, and he and his family reside in Fort Wayne. <br>
<i> For more on the Mad Ants follow Reggie Hayes at reggiehayes1 </i><br>
<center> Up next </center><br>
Tip-off: Westchester at Mad Ants, 7 tonight
TV: Antenna TV