To be on three teams in one season is something that you’ve got to be mentally prepared for. —Trevor Booker
SALT LAKE CITY — His white NBA headband was wrapped tightly around his head.
His yellow/white Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 sneakers were also crispy to match his brand new white, navy blue and yellow home Indiana Pacers No. 20 uniform.
In the past 24 hours, Trevor Booker has displayed a great deal of mental fortitude.
On Wednesday morning he practiced with the Pacers for the first time during shootaround then made his Indiana debut at 2:49 in the opening quarter against the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Field House.
For Booker, the appearance marked his third NBA team this season. He finished with two points and two rebounds in a 104-84 loss to the Jazz.
“To be on three teams in one season is something that you’ve got to be mentally prepared for,” Booker said. “I felt like coming into the season that this would be the year that I got traded out of all my years so I kind of tried to prepare myself for it and it actually happened but I’m a vet who has been in the league for a while so no worries here.”
After being waived by Philadelphia on Feb. 28, Booker signed with the Pacers for the remainder of the season on Saturday, March 3. In December, he was also traded from Brooklyn to Philadelphia for Nik Stauskas, Jahlil Okafor and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
Although suiting up for three teams in a single season sounds strange, it’s actually not as uncommon as some may think.
Booker joins Greg Monroe (MIL-PHO-BOS), Sean Kilpatrick (BRK-MIL-LAC) and Rashad Vaughn (MIL-BRK-ORL) as the fourth player to have played for three different teams in 2017-18, per Elias Sports.
The last player to play for more than three teams in a season was Bobby Ray Jones Jr. (DEN-MEM-HOU-MIA-SA-DEN) who played for five teams in 2007, with two different stints in Denver, according to Elias.
“We like his physicality, his ability, his versatility to be able to guard really one through five,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “He certainly brings rebounding to the floor, which is something that we’ve stressed this whole season is an area we need to improve on and he’s a veteran. He’s a guy that can give minutes at the four position.”
Booker, 30, spent two of his eight seasons in Salt Lake City as a member of the Utah Jazz from 2014-16. He still maintains close ties to Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who he typically texts from time to time using his customary all capital letters. The veteran power forward averages 7.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists for his career and could be a great asset to Indiana.
“We stay in touch. I enjoy his sense of humor and I have for a long time,” Snyder said. “I’m happy for him. We feel, as an organization and particularly as a coaching staff, that what he did for us gave him an opportunity to play the way he has and any team that has that guy on their team is lucky to have him.”
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE: Forward Joe Ingles jumped to No. 2 on the Jazz’s all-time 3-pointers made in a single season list with 162. Former Jazzman Randy Foye is No. 1 on the list with 178 in 2012-13.
HELLO THABO: Even while limping with a brace wrapped around his injured right knee, veteran forward Thabo Sefolosha continues to support his Utah Jazz teammates. While recovering from knee surgery, Sefolosha remains out indefinitely but is now traveling with the team again. He was spotted on the sidelines in a burgundy sports coat and dark pants in Indiana.
“It’s good,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “He’s had a presence off the court as well as on. He’s a thoughtful person.”
FAMILIAR PLACE: Jazz two-way player Georges Niang laughed and joked with members of the Indiana Pacers while strolling to the locker room after completing his pregame routine. The former Iowa State star is familiar with the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Indiana organization. Niang was selected by the Pacers in the 2016 NBA draft with the 50th pick but was waived after his rookie season. He played in 23 games for the Pacers, logging 0.9 points and 4.0 minutes per game in 2016-17.