How much is Bojan Bogdanovic worth to the Indiana Pacers?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 21: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics in game four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 21, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 21: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics in game four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 21, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers have plenty of tough decisions to make this offseason, including how much they should pay Bojan Bogdanovic.

Bojan Bogdanovic showed the Indiana Pacers he was more than just a shooter this past season. In addition to upping his 3-point percentage to 42.5%, his driving ability proved an asset as the Pacers struggled for offense in their post-Victor Oladipo portion of the season.

Bojan put up his best scoring, rebounding, assisting numbers (18 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2 assists a game) this season and couldn’t have picked a better time to have a career year. After all, he is a free agent this summer.

Bogdanovic says he would like to stay in one place, but his bank account will have a say in the process as well.

With Indiana’s potentially copious amount of cap space, a big question for them is just how much they offer Bogdanovic. He rightly will be demanding a raise in his next contract, no matter where he plays, but how much he is worth going forward isn’t an easy question to answer.

If he was just a year or two younger, it might be easier to throw money at the Croatian forward. But as he hits 30 years old, there are legitimate reasons to worry about the eventual downward slide of his career. Bojan is certainly worth more than the mid-level exception ($9,073,050), but how much more do you want to pay him?

A possible comparison comes in the form of Joe Ingles. Despite similar ages and international origins, Bogdanovic always had a higher level of play in his career and added to his game as time went on. Ingles was somewhat middling until a few seasons ago when his numbers took off as a mix of a multi-utility player.

Ingles signed a 4-year deal that was front-loaded to pay him $14 million up front as it stepped its way down to $10 million. While Bojan is a better scorer, Ingles has more versatility to his game. Despite Bojan having a greater impact over a slightly longer period, Ingles multiple ways of affecting the game even the playing field.

If nothing else, Ingles’ contract is the sort of template most GMs would want signing a player crossing over the 30-years old mark. Give them their money up front and have their salary trickle down as time goes on to mitigate the damage if their skills erode drastically before their contract ends.

A guy like Robert Covington is making between $10 to $13 million over the next few years but is a little younger than Bogdanovic. While $15 million sounds about right for Bojan, you hope to avoid something like what happened with Hedo Turkoglu in his final seasons as his production fell drastically.

The real question will be how much the Pacers value Bogdanovic’s scoring overall. His defense may be a big strike against him, but as much as we like to talk about overall impact, scoring is always a skill teams have little problem paying for.

How the Pacers should handle negotiations with Bojan Bogdanovic

My best (and a few smart people I asked) guesses for what Bojan Bogdanovic is worth on the open market range from the MLE all the way up to $17 million a season.

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What the Pacers pay him — if they want to keep him — really depends on a few things.

The rest of the roster, and who else they may sign, obviously plays a large factor. Indiana needs a small forward whether they sign Bogdanovic or anyone else. Outside of Doug McDermott, who has played a bench role and wasn’t used much in the playoffs, there aren’t any other options on the roster.

Unless there’s a better option on the market or they want to allocate their spending to other positions (worth noting center and shooting guard are locked up), it seems like the Pacers would be in the market for Bojan even if he wasn’t on their team last season.

Depending on who else Indiana wants to bring in and considering the fact Indiana has Bojan Bogdanovic’s early Bird rights. They can pay him up to 175% of his current salary ($18,375,000) and go over the cap to do so. It seems if Indiana did want to keep him around and add more talent via free agency and this would be the way to go.

Indiana likely wouldn’t want to pay Bogdanovic that full $18,375,000, but signing him with Bird rights might be critical to managing their cap space. The Pacers could potentially offer him a one year deal and promise something more a year later with Bojan’s full Bird rights, but that’s a riskier proposition for Bogdanovic to take.

I’d be willing to throw as much as $16 million Bojan’s way, but I’d want the full power of Indiana’s scouting and analytics behind me if I was paying him more than that.

Either way, the Pacers would be wise to give him more money up front and tapper it off to mitigate any sudden downgrade in Bogdanovic’s ability. They need a small forward and unless there’s a better realistic option on the market, the Pacers will need to throw some money the Croatian’s way.

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If another team wants to pay Bogdanovic more, the Pacers might have to consider matching it considering the limited market for small forward’s this summer. There are options out there like Khris Middleton, Marcus Morris, and Rudy Gay, but Indiana won’t be the only ones bidding on their services.