Indiana Pacers: Re-grading Malcolm Brogdon sign-and-trade

Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers secured Malcolm Brogdon this summer by way of a sign and trade. Let’s reflect on how that signing has panned out.

The Indiana Pacers secured a piece of their future this offseason when they signed Malcolm Brogdon to a four-year, $85 million contract, a contract Brogdon certainly deserved after joining the 50-40-90 club in his third season in the league.

The way Indiana secured Brogdon was relatively unconventional. While most teams with their sights set on him would have simply submitted an offer sheet and waited for the Bucks to match or forego the ability to match (Brogdon was a restricted free agent, meaning Milwaukee could have kept him if they matched outside offers), the Pacers bartered with the Bucks to promise they landed Brogdon.

The way they did this? A sign-and-trade. Everyone wins in this situation. Here’s how it shook out:

So, Brogdon gets his payday, the Bucks don’t see Brogdon walk for nothing in return, and the Pacers get their guy.

The qualm you might have with this is the fact that the Pacers forfeited a first-round draft pick and two second-rounders for a guy they could have gotten for simply cap space. That’s assuming, however, that Milwaukee wouldn’t have matched the offer Indiana extended and that there would have been an optimal use for that money ($20 million on the books this year) elsewhere in the point guard slot from the free market.

The premium available guards (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker) had their sights set on larger markets. Some of the one-way guards like D’Angelo Russell wouldn’t have fit with the Pacers’ vision.

Maybe the only alternative might have been Ricky Rubio, which, okay, not a bad fit in my opinion for the Pacers.

Then, however, you’re assuming Rubio would rather play in Indiana than the warm weather of Phoenix for about the same price (and $16 million per year feels like a bit of an overpay for Rubio).

That brings you down to two options — forfeit some assets to guarantee you get your guy or gamble with the possibility you are stuck with a Rubio-type at best.

An underrated part of this, too, is the fact that this keeps the bond strong between Pacers President Kevin Pritchard, the Bucks front office, and Malcolm Brogdon’s agent Danielle Cantor.

Players and agents around the league take note too, and subtle things like being willing to part with assets to get a player are not just empty noble things to do, they are bartering chips for the future. It can help the Pacers gain a more lucrative deal with a free agent or come to an amicable extension with a player down the road if the team is viewed as caring about the well-being of its players.

The reputation element, while not directly pertinent to Brogdon and the specifics of his signing, is absolutely important here, and the direct payoffs of that won’t be very clear but should be kept in mind.

How well is Malcolm Brogdon playing?

Malcolm Brogdon is as consistent and as good as ever. He’s matched his PER from last season (tying his career-high) and establishing himself as a key element to a winning team in Indiana. The fact that Milwaukee didn’t want to pay him makes sense when you consider the fact that they needed to keep Khris Middleton around, but the trio of Brogdon, Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo seems worthy of entering the luxury tax for the Bucks.

Brogdon is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists. While his shooting efficiencies have dropped, it’s in part because his volume of attempts has increased, as has his usage rate (by 5 percent compared to last season).

Brogdon is eighth in the league in free-throw percentage and 11th in assists per game.

How much is Malcolm Brogdon making?

Malcolm Brogdon signed a four-year deal with the Indiana Pacers (by way of sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks) for $85 million. He made $20 million in 2019-20 and will make $22.6 million in his final year.

For the Pacers, the cost must be considered to be the money they pay Brogdon plus the opportunity cost of what they surrendered in the trade with the Bucks, one first-round pick and two seconds.

Was signing Malcolm Brogdon a good move for the Pacers?

Adding Malcolm Brogdon was a great move for the Pacers. In his first year with the team, he’s averaged 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. He’s started in all 48 games that he’s appeared in and has been a remarkable facilitator and multi-level scorer.

Brogdon is third in scoring per game and first in assists per game. His box plus/minus is the best on the team.

Ultimately, having to give up a first-round pick in addition to two second-round picks for a player the team might have been able to get for just cap space is a bit steep. When you consider, however, that the team secured their guy, kept themselves in the good graces of the agents in the league, and also have an “owed favor” from the Bucks they might someday cash in on, the price makes more sense.

It is for that reason only that this isn’t a perfect A.

MALCOLM BROGDON, 4-YEAR CONTRACT . B. The Pacers signed Malcolm Brogdon to a reasonable deal for four years. The price they paid to secure him, three draft picks, is a bit steep considering they might have been able to sign him outright.. .

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