Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey has been hungry for new opportunities. So when he was assisting the Indiana Pacers during their playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, he planted the seed of coaching the Pacers' team in the Las Vegas Summer League.
He got the gig.
“I was actually campaigning during the first round of the playoffs against the Cavs. 'Who's coaching Summer League? I'd love to do it,'” Gansey said. “I want to continue to grow as a coach and this will be part of my growth.”
Gansey assisted Popeye Jones in coaching the Pacers at the Orlando Summer League last year, but there's been a shift in the way the developmental offseason games are set up. All 30 teams will now participate in Las Vegas from July 6 to 17; there will be three preliminary games, then a tournament, and teams will play five to eight games apiece.
The Pacers will kick off the Las Vegas games with a 3 p.m. July 6 game against the Houston Rockets on NBA TV.
“I'm really, really excited about the Summer League. It's something I've always dreamed about and wanted to do since I've started coaching in the (G League) and being around here with the Pacers. I'm really excited about the opportunity,” Gansey said. “It's the first time the Pacers have been in Vegas, and all 30 NBA teams are going to be there. I'm just really very excited about it and can't wait to get started.”
Gansey coached the Mad Ants, who are owned and operated by the Pacers, to a 29-21 regular-season record and a Central Division championship last season. After a first-round playoff bye, they lost to the Erie BayHawks in a single-elimination second-round game.
His contract with the Pacers expires this summer, though the Pacers have given glowing reviews about his performance.
The Pacers' Summer League squad is expected to include several players who were with Fort Wayne last season, such as Ben Moore, Edmond Sumner, T.J. Leaf and Alex Poythress, along with free agents and players taken in next week's NBA draft. The Mad Ants and Pacers run the same systems, so the transition for Gansey should be seamless.
“It's not going to be too different. There are going to be some familiar faces that are going to be on the team,” said Gansey, who Wednesday was helping run the Pacers' pre-draft workout for prospective players. “There's some familiarity with the guys and adding some other pieces that we'll see from throughout the G League that we've played against.”