The Indiana Pacers need to bring back this player in free agency

While the Indiana Pacers are clearly re-signing Pascal Siakam in the offseason, they also need to bring back this other key player.
Mar 5, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; The Indiana Pacers bench celebrates during the second half of the
Mar 5, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; The Indiana Pacers bench celebrates during the second half of the / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who follows the Indiana Pacers knows that they don't spend a lot of money in free agency. They are never in the luxury tax, not having paid it since the 2005-06 season. Typically, the Pacers try to find value deals in free agency to supplement the core guys on the team.

Next season could change that. The Pacers are clearly planning on bringing back Pascal Siakam on something close to a max deal. Otherwise, they wouldn't have traded him in the first place. While he is the priority, they should bring this other key player back and guarantee his deal for next season.

That player is T.J. McConnell. McConnell was inexplicably out of the rotation early in the year and carded some DNP-CDs on the box score. Rick Carlisle realized how stupid that was and started giving him the backup point guard minutes he deserved.

T.J. McConnell can still provide value to the Indiana Pacers

McConnell is still a valuable member of this Pacers team. Against San Antonio, he had 26 points on 13-15 shooting and was the only source of offense for the team. On Tuesday night against the Mavs, he had 13 points, 7 assists, and went 2-2 from three. His energy is what this team needs.

On a team that wants to play fast, McConnell is the perfect backup. He probes defenses in the lane and makes players collapse when he penetrates. If they get too close, he'll whip out a pass to an open shooter on the perimeter. If they stick too close to those guys and give him a step, he'll make a flying 9-foot jump shot.

McConnell's contract is not guaranteed next year. It sits at $9.3 million if the Pacers don't decide to cut him. I think it would be a terrible move to do that. He provides a veteran presence to a young team that needs a steady hand in that second unit. Even though he'll be 32 next year, he still has the speed to play the game he needs to.

The Pacers already shed some salary by trading Buddy Hield. They likely won't bring back Doug McDermott. If they do, it will be at a reduced value from his $20.6 million cap hold. Obi Toppin is likely in the same boat. He'll probably be let go so Jarace Walker can get some minutes.

Next story. Three most important players for the Pacers down the stretch. dark. Next

There should be plenty of money left over for McConnell's extremely reasonable contract next year.