The Pacers’ Summer League roster includes a first-round draft pick and six players with NBA experience. The most famous among them, however, is the one who became a world-wide social media sensation for becoming a father.
Augusto Lima is a 26-year-old, 6-foot-10 Brazilian who is under contract to Real Madrid in Spain, but was most recently loaned out to the Zalgiris team in Lithuania. There, he skipped a semifinal playoff game in May to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their daughter.
A reporter questioned Lima’s coach, who happens to be former Pacers guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, what he thought of that decision. The exchange went viral on social media.
Reporter: “Coach, what do you think about Augusto Lima going away in the midst of a series to attend the birth of his child?”
Jasikevicius: “What do I think about it? I allowed him to go.”
Reporter: “But is it normal for a player to leave the team during the semifinals?”
Jasikevicius: “Do you have kids? When you have kids, youngster, you’ll understand. Because that’s the height of a human experience. Wow, that’s a good question, really. Do you think basketball is the most important thing in life?”
Reporter: “No, but a semifinal is important.”
Jasikevicius: “To whom is it important?”
Reporter: “The team.”
Jasikevicius: “Which one?”
Jasikevicius: “Did you see the number of fans at the game? Important? When you see your first child, you will understand what the most important thing in life is. Because nothing can be more majestic in the world than the birth of a child. Not titles, not anything else. Augusto Lima is now in heaven emotionally. I’m really happy for him.”
Jasikevicius was widely praised for his worldly perspective and Lima was wildly happy over the arrival of his daughter Alba. “It is undoubtedly the best gift of my life,” he wrote in Spanish in an Instagram post after her birth.
The second-best gift would be a spot on an NBA team, which he’ll pursue with the Pacers. Lima has one year left on his contract with Real Madrid, but that could be bought out by an NBA team if he performs well enough in Orlando, where Summer League play begins on Saturday.
The Pacers have kept a collective eye on him for four years, dating back to when he made himself available for the draft in 2013 and participated in a pre-draft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Scouting director Ryan Carr saw him this past season with Zalgiris and has “watched him grow up.”
Lima wasn’t drafted then, but considers himself a far better candidate for an NBA team today.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I want to show my energy, my defense and what I do. I think Pacers need guy like this. I need to show this to these guys.
“Europe is one thing, NBA is another thing. Every practice, every game, I have to show how I am.”
How Lima is might appeal to a team needing someone to do the dirty work around the basket. He rebounds, defends, and runs the floor well, but does not score much. He has a decent mid-range shot, but his scoring averages reflect the fact he’s played near the basket through eight professional seasons in Europe. In 259 games, for 15.8 minutes per game, he has averaged 5.9 points on 53 percent shooting and 4.3 rebounds.
In other words, he’s far more Dale Davis than Myles Turner. The Pacers have a few low-post players under contract for next season in Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin and Rakeem Christmas, but one never knows what needs might develop over a long hot summer of deal-making.
Jasikevicius played 75 games for the Pacers in the 2005-06 season and 37 games the following season. He came to them a highly-publicized guard because of his success in Europe and was personally recruited by team president Larry Bird. He chose the Pacers over offers from Cleveland and Utah and was slotted to back up Jamaal Tinsley at point guard.
It didn’t work out as anyone hoped. Unwelcome in the locker room by players who felt threatened by his presence and played out of position at shooting guard much of the time by coach Rick Carlisle, he averaged 7.3 points in 112 games with the Pacers before he was included in an eight-player trade with Golden State in 2007.
He was not a strong defender because of his limited athleticism, but emphasizes defense as a coach. That suited Lima’s strengths and mindset.
“He says to go 100 percent every day,” Lima said. “If you don’t play defense you can’t play with him. His motto is, defense every time.”
He’ll have five games to display that with the Pacers once they get to Orlando. Real Madrid will be waiting for him next season if it doesn’t work out, but he’s eager to make the jump across the Atlantic Ocean to the NBA. And bring his family with him.
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