Former Celtics center unhappy after…

Daniel Theis, a former Celtics center, could not have had a better summer. The 31-year-old appeared fully recovered from an injury-plagued 2022-23 season and helped Germany win its first FIBA World Cup title. After performing admirably on that stage, Theis appeared poised to return to the Pacers rotation this season in a contract year after appearing in just seven games the previous year.

 

Daniel Theis

 

 

However, in his return to the TD Garden on Wednesday night, Theis was the only Pacer who did not play. He has yet to appear in any of Indiana’s five games this season. When asked about the unexpected situation that has emerged to begin the year, Theis did not hold back in an exclusive interview on Wednesday night.

“Obviously after a great summer, I’m not happy with the situation I’m in right now,” Theis told MassLive. “I want to play and take all the good stuff from the summer into the season but it’s a long season. We are going to see what’s going on and what’s happening.”

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Theis landed in Indiana last summer when the Celtics traded him, Aaron Nesmith, salary filler and a 2023 first round pick for guard Malcolm Brogdon. Nesmith has emerged as a steady rotation contributor for the Pacers but Rick Carlisle has preferred to go with a younger group of bigs (Myles Turner, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson) over the experienced Theis. Even with Smith out due to injury and the Pacers defense putting up an embarrassing performance, Theis did not get a chance to suit up, bringing questions about whether the big man is part of Indiana’s plans for this year.

“There’s communication but it’s also coach’s decision,” Theis said. “I just stay ready, do my thing and whatever happens, happens.”

The 6-foot-9 center is essentially in a contract year with Indiana as the final year of his deal next season is a $9.5 million team option. He is earning $9.1 million this year, making him seemingly an intriguing trade or perhaps buyout candidate if the Pacers elect to keep playing younger bigs over him.

The Celtics and a host of other playoff teams will likely be in the trade market for some backup big insurance as the season rolls in. For what it’s worth, Theis sounded open to the prospect of a reunion in Boston if things don’t work out in Indiana.

“I’ve learned to say never say never. Obviously, I’m open (to playing in Boston again if the opportunity arose),” Theis said. “I want to play and want to be part of the team, which is the most important thing.”

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The odds of the Celtics trading for Theis are low according to a league source since working a deal for the big man earning $9.1 million would be challenging for salary matching purposes. Moving a key part of the bench would be required to make the money work there so it seems unlikely. However, if Theis was ultimately bought out by the Pacers, he would certainly be an intriguing option for Boston to boost some center depth behind Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis.

For now, Theis remains in limbo as the Pacers weigh their options on a crowded depth chart. He’s still keeping in touch with plenty of his former teammates having attended Marcus Smart’s wedding this summer while also admiring the team’s play from afar.

“They have a great team,” Theis said. “The way they play offense, shooting the ball, shooting the 3. Defensively, adding Jrue Holiday, tough team to beat all season long. Hopefully everyone stays healthy.”

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