Indiana Pacers hedging their bet on Edmond Sumner

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 22: Edmond Sumner
CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 22: Edmond Sumner /

The Indiana Pacers signed Edmond Sumner to a two-way contract as the rookie from Xavier heals from two surgeries this year.

When the Indiana Pacers acquired Edmond Sumner on draft night, they knew they were placing a bet on the guard from Xavier. After two surgeries this year, he needs time to heal before Indiana knows if he is ready to play in the NBA.

Now, you could say they are hedging their bet as they signed him to the franchise’s first two-way contract. The Pacers signed Sumner to one due to those injuries, but the contract allows Sumner to earn more money if he is called up to the Pacers from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.  Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports reports that it is a two-year deal.

The NBA’s new CBA allows teams to sign players to two-way contracts that allow them to call up and send down a player without the player’s contract counting towards their salary cap. There are two roster spots reserved for these players on top of the usual 15.

There is a 45-day limit to these call-ups, but the general idea is that prospects get a chance at playing in the NBA without their team risking a roster spot before knowing if they are ready or not for the league.

Why this is good for Edmond Sumner and the Indiana Pacers

While Sumner likely would prefer a full NBA contract, his situation is a great example of why the new CBA added this type of contract.

He might have fallen completely out of the draft and needed to sign somewhere as a free agent had these contracts not existed. Sumner’s injuries are a big reason — if not the reason — why he fell out of the first round. The injuries required surgery and there are no guarantees that he will be ready to play this season.

However, when he is ready to get back on the court, the Pacers can let him get up to speed with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the G-League. If he clears that test, then Indiana can call him up to the NBA.

And there is where the two-way contracts benefit both the player the team the most.

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Last season Indiana saw Ben Bentil sign with the Dallas Mavericks and Alex Poythress sign with the Philidelphia 76ers despite both being on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants roster.

Those were great opportunities for the players, but unfortunate for the Pacers organization that put time and effort into developing them. The Pacers even threw extra cash at Bentil when they signed him in hopes he could be a long-term prospect, but had no way of keeping him in the organization outside of signing him to an NBA deal.

But with two-way contracts, a player can’t be poached like this.

Now, whether the Pacers would have called them up if they had the option is another debate as they already signed 15 players. But if they had the option last year, Indiana could have signed both Bentil and Poythress to two-way deals and experimented with them on the NBA roster. Unlike Rakeem ChristmasGeorges Niang or Joe Young who were already signed to NBA contracts, Indiana didn’t have the advantage of sending him back and forth as they needed them.

In the case of Sumner, they have the chance to develop him in the G-League without risking an NBA contract (yet) while also having the opportunity to call him up to the NBA if they wish. In that case, they would need to make a decision after 45 days on the active roster, but they would have a much better idea if he deserved an NBA contract.

Even if Sumner didn’t have injuries, this two-way contract allows them more flexibility as they rebuild. For Sumner, if gives him a chance to heal without rushing to prove himself as he knows they Pacers are invested in him for at least the next two seasons.

Edmond Sumner could end up being a steal for the Indiana Pacers

If it turns out Sumner’s injuries are merely a setback then Indiana found a sleeper pick in the second round. If it turns out these injuries robbed Sumner of the athleticism that once made him a potential first-round pick, then Indiana’s modest bet doesn’t hurt them in the long-run.

Both of Indiana’s second round picks are cases of risk and reward, but Sumner might be an even bigger risk than Ike Anigbogu. Considering the low expectations of second-round picks, taking two formerly first-round projected players injury risks are worthwhile bets.

Next: Indiana Pacers waive Monta Ellis

If either pans out, then the Indiana Pacers will look smart as they cash in their bets from Kevin Pritchard’s first draft.