Pacers Salary series: Cory Joseph and his fluid role

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 7: Cory Joseph
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 7: Cory Joseph /

In this series, 8p9s writer Tony East breaks down the contract situation of each Pacers player. For this edition, we’ll look at combo guard Cory Joseph.

In what might be the most underrated move of the entire Pacers offseason, the team acquired Cory Joseph in a trade in which they sent back literally nothing.

That’s right, the Pacers traded away the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, a 30-year-old player selected in the 2009 draft, to acquire Joseph from the Raptors. The move had primarily financial motivations for Toronto, which allowed Kevin Pritchard and co. to acquire the talented guard for next to nothing.

In Joseph, the Pacers now have a talented backup point guard on a very reasonable contract. Joseph has increased his scoring, rebounding, and assist output every season of his career, and is solid as an off-ball defender.

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With Toronto last season, Joseph averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per 36 minutes. A rebounding number over four is encouraging since the Pacers project to be one of the worst rebounding teams in the league this coming season.

As for his scoring and assist numbers, they reflect an offensive impact similar to most players of his mold. His increase in scoring is attributed to an eight percent increase in 3-point percentage last season. His assist numbers show he is a willing passer.

Nothing about Joseph really jumps off the page at you, but his versatility makes him incredibly useful. He played 42 percent of his minutes at shooting guard last season, and that combo guard ability will allow him to be used in a wide variety of lineups next season.

A showcase of his versatility, he does a lot in this clip. He is a screener in the play, but he recognizes the space. Then he cuts to the rim for an easy layup:

Joseph’s multifaceted skills should carry over to the Pacers this season.

2017-18 season

Joseph will make $7,630,000 this upcoming season. Given he is just as serviceable as Darren Collison, who is making over $10,000,000, CoJo is a nice asset on his current deal. His contract is fully guaranteed, and he carries a cap hit at the same amount of his salary.

2018 summer and beyond

Like Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph has a player option next summer. If Joseph opts in, he will make $7,945,000 during the 2018-19 season. Otherwise, he could opt out, test the free agent market and attempt to make more money.

If Joseph thinks he can make more than $8,000,000 per season by opting out, he will. If he plays poorly this season or has a nasty injury, he may opt in. Then he could milk his current contract for all the money he can.

The Pacers will have bird rights on Joseph no matter which summer his contract with the team ends.

Prediction time

Joseph will almost certainly opt out of his contract next summer and test free agency. His versatility to play two positions combined with his skills on the court make him a valuable player. Joseph has the opportunity to get paid next summer due to the lack of stellar free agents on the point guard market.

The Pacers could use his bird rights to re-sign him for any amount, up to his max, they choose. If they want him to be a part of their future, they would be wise to leverage his bird rights and sign him after acquiring players with cap space.

Next: Hopes are high at Media Day

Hopefully, the front office manages the Cory Joseph situation well. He is a valuable player who could end up starting at some point. Let’s hope for the best with CoJo going forward.