Malcolm Brogdon

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Sabonis, Oladipo, Warren

Malcolm Brogdon has taken on the closer’s role in his first season with the Pacers, at least until Victor Oladipo returns, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. In training camp, it wasn’t clear who might get that designation with nine new players on the roster, but Brogdon, who was acquired from the Bucks in a sign-and-trade, feels comfortable making decisions that will win or lose games.

“It’s a privilege,” he said. “Being the closer, sometimes it’s about making the last shot, but sometimes it’s about making the right play, making the right pass. My teammates, this organization, my coach — they trust me with the ball, and I’m going to continue to make good decisions.”

Indiana is using Brogdon as a full-time point guard, Agness adds, instead of a floor spacer like he was in Milwaukee. As a result, he has eight double-doubles this season after just three in his first three years in the NBA.

“I was hoping for it,” he said of the point guard duties. “Especially with Vic being out, I was hoping I could be that guy, but I knew I had to prove myself. And now that I’ve proven myself, Coach and my teammates allow me to do that and empower me to do that.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Doctors don’t believe Domantas Sabonis is risking further injury by playing with a bone bruise in his left knee, Agness relays in a separate story. After he was checked by the team doctor, his representatives had two other specialists examine the knee before any decision was made. “There’s swelling in the bone that all doctors say can’t get worse unless you get hit in that same spot,” he said. “It’s the same thing if I get hit in my healthy knee. There’s the same chance. It’s not a muscle or anything, so by doing more stuff, you can’t technically get it worse.”
  • Oladipo remained in Indiana as the team left for a nine-day road trip, Agness adds in the same piece. He plans to practice with the team’s G League affiliate as he prepares for his season debut January 29.
  • Picking up T.J. Warren in an offseason trade with the Suns has provided a boost for the Pacers’ offense, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Warren is averaging 18.1 PPG and his versatility has made the team more difficult to defend. “He can score any way possible,” Jeremy Lamb said. “Off the dribble. Catch and shoot. Floaters. Threes. Pull-ups. Post-ups. However you want it, he’ll give it to you.”

Brogdon: Pacers Valued Me More Than Bucks Did

When Malcolm Brogdon reached free agency last summer, the Bucks had the ability to match any offer sheet he signed, but opted instead to send him to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for a handful of draft picks. Speaking to reporters on Sunday when he returned to Milwaukee, Brogdon said he realized in the weeks leading up to free agency that he might not be the Bucks’ top priority.

“I had a pretty good inkling that things may not work out and things may not go in the direction that I thought they were going to go in, so I started to change my mindset and started to identify different teams and prepare myself,” Brogdon said, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “I would’ve loved to play for this team (the Bucks), if they had wanted me. If they had valued me the way the Pacers value me. That’s all I gotta say.”

Despite suggesting that the Bucks didn’t value him like Indiana did, Brogdon expressed no hard feelings toward his old team. Milwaukee has an NBA-best 27-4 record so far this season, while Brogdon – in the first season of a four-year, $85MM contract – is having a career year, so it may turn out to be a win-win outcome.

Although Brogdon’s efficiency numbers have taken a bit of a hit so far this season, he’s averaging career highs in PPG (18.3), APG (7.6), and several other categories. Perhaps most importantly, he has a starring role for his new team in Indiana after being a complementary player for his first three NBA seasons in Milwaukee. Brogdon acknowledged that was a factor in his willingness to move on from the Bucks this past offseason.

“It’s about a new opportunity, a new challenge,” Brogdon said. “Sort of being a leader of a team now is a totally different role, it’s a way bigger role for me, but it’s something I’ve been molded into and something I’ve prepared myself to do over the past three years.

“This is, I think, something that every respected NBA player wants. They want a team that they can call theirs, they want a team that they can still win at a high level, but they have the ball more in their hands and they can control more of the game.”

Pacers Notes: A. Holiday, Mitrou-Long, Sabonis, Brogdon

With their second-year point guard Aaron Holiday on a tear recently, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star notes that the Pacers will be sure to field a litany of trade offers. Nine months ago, team advisor Larry Bird apparently cautioned Indiana against including Holiday in a potential trade deal for Mike Conley with the Grizzlies. Bird was confident in the potential of Holiday, picked 23rd in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Magic and Suns apparently also expressed interest in making a move for Holiday around the 2018/19 trade deadline.

Following a performative hiccup at the start of the season, Holiday has picked up his play of late. Though he will return to the bench after starting in the injured Malcolm Brogdon‘s absence, Michael speculates that Holiday has displayed enough flashes to tantalize teams as a potential trade chip once again.

There’s more from Indianapolis:

  • Speaking of Brogdon, The Athletic’s Scott Agness tweets that the point guard will return to the floor for the Pacers tomorrow against the Grizzlies for the first time since injuring his back on November 15th against the Rockets. “I think I stepped wrong and my back reacted strongly to it,” Brogdon said, per Agness. “They said I strained a muscle and possibly a joint. But now the inflammation has gone away, my movement is all the way back, I have no pain and I feel great on the court.”
  • Two-way player Naz Mitrou-Long spoke with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com about his unlikely path to Indiana. A five-year college player for Iowa State, Mitrou-Long toiled in the 2017 Summer League and saw 15 games of NBA action as a two-way player for the Jazz in 2017/18 and 2018/19. He joined the Pacers on November 17th for emergency spot rotation minutes in a game against the Bucks before making the most out of the team’s next outing, a win against the Nets in which he scored 12 points in 25 minutes. “I know guys who have been in the league for three, four, five years who are looking to put a stretch together to reassure themselves,” Mitrou-Long said. “Playing a game like Brooklyn and getting my feet wet against Milwaukee, feeling the comfortability, it reassures me that I am an NBA player.”
  • According to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando, Pacers center/power forward Domantas Sabonis confirmed that he will appear for Lithuania in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s what we have to go through to qualify for the next Olympics,” Sabonis observed. “We’re going to battle for the tournament and get a ticket for Japan.”

Eastern Notes: Love, Thompson, Bucks, Silva, Kurucs

Sources close to Cavaliers veterans Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that both big men would ideally like to play for a team with a chance to win a championship. However, Vardon warns not to read too much into that, suggesting that neither player has given any indication he wants out of Cleveland.

Additionally, even if the Cavaliers decide to try to deal Love or Thompson, it’s not clear if there would be a strong market for either player, Vardon notes. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appeal to contenders, but trade chatter around the NBA is “way down,” according to one general manager who spoke to The Athletic, and Love’s and Thompson’s big cap hits would make them tricky to move.

Over at The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor tries to identify a few teams that might match up with the Cavaliers in a Love trade, writing that rival team executives believe GM Koby Altman is “just posturing” when he insists Cleveland has zero interest in moving the five-time All-Star. However, O’Connor has a tough time finding ideal fits, listing the Kings, Spurs, Heat, Trail Blazers, and Rockets as some teams that might work in theory.

As Altman and the Cavs consider their options, here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

Giannis On Brogdon: “Wish He Was Still Here”

As Malcolm Brogdon thrives in his first season for the division-rival Pacers, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted on Thursday that he’d like to still be teammates with the former Rookie of the Year, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

“Definitely wish he was still here,” Antetokounmpo said. “One of my friends, one of the guys that I always teased every day when I see him – call him ugly, we’re just going back and forth. I’m going to miss that, but at the end of the day, you got to do what’s best for you. I wish him the best, I wish his team the best and I’m excited to play against him.”

Antetokounmpo’s comments are noteworthy because Brogdon’s departure from Milwaukee has been a hot topic for the last several months. The 26-year-old guard was a restricted free agent, so the Bucks could have kept him if they’d wanted to. However, there were questions about how re-signing Brogdon would impact the team’s ability to keep other key free agents, and whether or not Bucks ownership was willing to pay a big tax bill.

Of course, with Antetokounmpo eligible for a super-max extension in 2020 or free agency in 2021, the Bucks will be looking to do all they can to keep the reigning MVP happy and convince him to stick around long-term. Which is why Giannis’ follow-up comment on Brogdon, relayed by Nehm, is perhaps even more interesting.

“Can you imagine this team with also Malcolm?” Antetokounmpo said after the Bucks improved their record to 8-3 on Thursday. “But hey, man, everybody takes their decision. His decision was to go to Indiana and build a team over there. I think that was best for him.”

As Nehm points out, Giannis’ framing of his teammate’s departure as a decision made by Brogdon rather than by the Bucks seems to suggest he doesn’t blame the team for the move, even though Milwaukee essentially controlled the process. Nehm notes that Brogdon used similar language recently when discussing his move with Scott Agness of The Athletic (podcast link).

“I had to figure out what my options were,” Brogdon told Agness. “I had two or three teams in the mix that we were really considering, but Indiana was by far the best. It was the team I was really pushing for and my agents made it work.”

Brogdon’s comments indicate he may have been more interested in landing with the Pacers than in re-upping with the Bucks, which is perhaps one key reason why Milwaukee was willing to negotiate a sign-and-trade. The Bucks netted multiple draft picks, including a lottery-protected first-rounder, in the deal and still insist they’ll be willing to pay the tax when it becomes necessary.

Meanwhile, Brogdon – like Antetokounmpo – is looking forward to the first Bucks/Pacers game of the season on Saturday in Indiana, but is downplaying its significance, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

“It’s just another game for me,” Brogdon said. “Looking forward to seeing those guys. Competing against them. I had a lot of good games in there, a lot of good memories in there. That’s all I got to say about it.”

Central Notes: Brogdon, Lamb, Satoransky, Gafford

Speaking to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post, Bucks general manager Jon Horst said that he was “pained” by the loss of Malcolm Brogdon this summer. However, Horst insisted that Milwaukee wasn’t forced into doing anything it didn’t want to do with Brogdon, who was a restricted free agent and could’ve been retained rather than sent to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade.

“I don’t feel like we were forced to do anything that we didn’t want to,” Horst said. “We made a trade with Tony Snell that freed us up to match any offers. We have an ownership group that has allowed us to do whatever we need to do [financially]. The decision on Malcolm really came down to what we thought we could get in return. Do we want to pay for what we think his market could be or do we want to see if we could get something that helps us now and going forward?”

On the surface, the Bucks’ decision not to bring back Brogdon does look financially motivated, as the team almost certainly would’ve ended up in luxury-tax territory if it re-signed the RFA guard. Whether or not that was the case, Horst views the trade with the Pacers – which netted multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder – as one that could end up being a win-win deal.

“I don’t think it’s said enough in the NBA that it’s possible for both parties to win,” Horst said. “It’s possible that we could be a better team without Malcolm. It’s possible that he could be a better player in Indiana. It’s possible that we could both do a great trade. Early on, it looks like that.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • While Brogdon has been the Pacers‘ most productive offseason addition so far, Jeremy Lamb hasn’t been too far behind. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star explores how the team has benefited from signing Lamb, who has provided scoring, ball-handling, and length.
  • The Bulls had their best game of the season on Wednesday as they blew out Atlanta in a performance keyed by Tomas Satoransky, who recorded 27 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago examines Satoransky’s work on both sides of the ball to show how the veteran guard is proving his value to his new team.
  • Second-round rookie Daniel Gafford is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play regular minutes for the Bulls, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I’m always at the end of the bench, trying to be the loudest at the end of the bench,” said Gafford, who has logged just six total minutes so far. “I’m always trying to bring energy to the floor for the guys that are out there playing. At the same time, it’s eating me up inside. I just want to be out there to try to do whatever I can to help the team get a win.”

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Giannis, Rose, Hutchison

Eric Bledsoe is expected to be ready for the Bucks‘ opener on Thursday, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays.

“I kind of knew what it was, in a sense,” said Bledsoe, who suffered a rib cage injury earlier in the preseason. “I knew it wasn’t nothing serious… I knew I was going to bounce back.”

Bledsoe will join Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and newcomer Wesley Matthews in the Bucks’ starting lineup, Velazquez adds in the same piece. Matthews will take over for Malcolm Brogdon, who was traded to the Pacers this offseason.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today argues that the Bucks have done everything right to keep Antetokounmpo around long-term. Milwaukee can offer Giannis the super-max next summer.
  • How Derrick Rose performs will go a long way toward whether the Pistons make the postseason, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Rose signed a two-year deal with the club this offseason.
  • There are plenty of questions surrounding second-year Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who notes that it may be hard for the club to find rotation minutes for Hutchison even once he’s recovered from his hamstring injury.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Bledsoe, Brogdon, Bulls

Pacers star Victor Oladipo scrimmaged with teammates Saturday for the first time since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee last season, Scott Agness of The Athletic writes. 

“I felt good,” Oladipo said, according to Agness. “I ain’t played in nine, nine and a half months, so it felt pretty good. It felt good just being out there and making a pass, shooting a jumper, shooting a floater, layup, something. It feels like I never left at all, honestly, but I’m just taking my time.”

Oladipo, a two-time All-Star, appeared in just 36 games with Indiana last season due to the injury. He was coming off a 2017/18 campaign that saw him average a career-high 23.1 points in 75 games, holding shooting marks of 48% from the floor, 37% from deep and 80% from the charity stripe.

“You can’t really simulate playing,” Oladipo said about finally scrimmaging. “No matter how hard you try, no matter if you imagine it, dream about it, you got to go out there and actually do it — and then your body will adapt. My wind is actually really good. Probably the hardest part is not doing too much. Everything else will come. I’ve been out for nine months, so you’re not going to see any ounce of frustration on my face. S–t, I’m just happy I can play again.”

The Pacers will need a healthy Oladipo to maximize their chances of competing for a playoff berth this season, adding the likes of Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell in free agency to a core that already includes Oladipo, Myles Turner, T.J. Warren and others.

Oladipo plans to travel with the team for most road games, according to Agness, though it’s unclear when he’ll make his official return to the court. Indiana opens its season with a home game against Detroit on Wednesday, followed by a three-game road trip against Cleveland, Detroit and Brooklyn.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Warren, Pritchard, Roster Moves

The 2019/20 season will only be his fourth NBA campaign and his first with the Pacers, but 26-year-old guard Malcolm Brogdon is Indiana’s bona fide team leader in his inaugural season in Indianapolis, writes Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.

At least one assistant coach has already gone as far as comparing Brogdon to perhaps the greatest player in Pacers’ history, five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller“I haven’t seen anybody like that in practice since Reggie,” said assistant coach Dan Burke, who has been with the Pacers for nearly 20 seasons.

Likewise, head coach Nate McMillan sees an extension of himself on the court with Brogdon, something every coach longs for in a point guard.

“He’s doing a good job of coming in and competing and getting the guys to compete,” McMillan said “He understands the position he’s in and what’s required of that. He’s communicating with all of our guys. He communicates with the guys he’s playing with and the guys he’s playing against (in practice)… it just comes natural for him.”

There’s more tonight out of Indianapolis:

  • A versatile player, offseason free agent acquisition T.J. Warren has the ability to line up as a power forward in a small-ball lineup, but the Pacers’ focus for him is to excel at small forward, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.
  • Scott Agness of The Athletic writes that the Pacers have elevated their emphasis on the international game and its players since president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, who played professionally in Spain, Italy, and Germany, was promoted to run the front office back in 2017. “I like the way Europe does it,” Pritchard said. “They put the emphasis early on learning the game versus playing and winning immediately.”
  • As we relayed earlier today and yesterday, the Pacers have made several roster moves in the past 48 hours. In addition to exercising rookie scale options on both Aaron Holiday and T.J. Leaf, the club replaced forward Jakeenan Gant with guard Walt Lemon Jr. on its 20-man roster.

Central Notes: Rose, Beilein, Giannis, Brogdon

Guard Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons because he feels the team can contend, Vince Ellis of the Free Press writes. Rose inked a two-year, $15MM deal with Detroit in free agency to lead its second unit. “I’ve had all the accolades in the past. I’m past that. Now I want to win,” he said. “The only thing on my résumé I’m missing is a championship and being here, seeing what happened last year with the Raptors in (the) East, you never know what can happen.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are amazed by new coach John Beilein’s work ethic and the 66-year-old’s energy level, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “He has more energy than I do,” forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “He’s always going, always has something on his mind, always something he’s ready to talk about, teach and coach. It’s really exciting to see because as a player that’s what you want. You want somebody that is so eager to get started that they can’t even slow down.
  • The Bucks bet on continuity in their efforts to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a super-max extension next summer, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. They managed to re-sign Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency and only lost one starter, Malcolm Brogdon. “We brought back a big part of the group; we believe in continuity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We think that gives us an advantage to have continuity. … This group looks like they’re growing, looks like they’re getting better, looks like they fit and they make sense and that we can compete and sustain success for a long period of time with this group and that’s been the goal.”
  • Despite Brogdon’s departure, the Bucks have plenty of options at shooting guard and small forward, Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. “I think the vision going forward is with the addition of Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver as wings that have proven that they are elite-level shooters and great defenders,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Got young guys like Donte (DiVincenzo), Pat (Connaughton) and Sterling (Brown) that are all proven to some degree.” Hill, who signed a three-year, $29MM deal, is another option for Budenholzer.