Bruce Brown

Central Notes: Altman, B. Brown, Pacers, Cunningham

The attorney for Koby Altman submitted a plea of not guilty on his behalf on Tuesday after the Cavaliers president of basketball operations was charged with committing a marked lanes violation and operating a vehicle while impaired, per TMZ Sports.

Police video obtained by TMZ and News 5 Cleveland (YouTube link) showed Altman appearing to struggle to complete a series of field sobriety tests after being pulled over in Cleveland on Friday night. The Cavaliers executive told officers that he was “exhausted” after returning from a trip overseas and was driving home after a long dinner.

The Cavaliers, who initially issued a brief statement announcing that they were gathering information on the incident, have put out a follow-up statement, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter links).

“We hold our team members to a high standard of conduct and expect leaders at every level of our organization to represent the Cavaliers with integrity, professionalism and accountability,” the Cavs said. We will continue to closely monitor the facts and circumstances of this matter and await resolution of the legal process.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a discussion about the best offseason move made by a Central Division team, Josh Robbins and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic both pick the Pacers‘ signing of Bruce Brown, while their colleague Darnell Mayberry chooses the Pistons‘ hiring of Monty Williams as their new head coach.
  • Within the same story, Edwards, Robbins, and Mayberry identify Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Pacers forward Obi Toppin and Jarace Walker as some of the top breakout candidates in the Central.
  • The majority of the Pacers‘ players were in attendance for Summer League in Las Vegas, signaling the team’s growing chemistry and a culture that’s on the right trajectory, contends Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required).

Central Notes: Simpson, Turner, Bucks’ Christmas Game, Cavs’ Arena

Guard Zavier Simpson gained a spot on the Pistons’ training camp roster and the former Wolverines star is thrilled to wear a Detroit uniform, he told Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s tremendous,” Simpson said of joining the Pistons. “Being able to be back here, it’s almost like home. Being able to play for the University of Michigan and have a tremendous career, and being able also to come here in Detroit and also play. It’s phenomenal. I’m excited, I love it and obviously the new coaching staff is coming in, which is phenomenal. Blessed to be a part of it, and it’s home so just want to keep working and do the most I can with the opportunity, and leave the results to the results.”

The Pistons’ NBA G League affiliate, Motor City Cruise, recently announced it has acquired Simpson’s returning player rights through a trade with the Magic’s affiliate team.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers big man Myles Turner is pleased with the team’s offseason moves, particularly the free agent acquisition of Bruce Brown. “I think we definitely got better,” Turner told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “We got that championship mindset with Bruce Brown. He’s fresh off a ‘chip. He could have gone anywhere this summer and he chose to come here and build with this group. I was with (GM Chad Buchanan) last night at the Nike Skills Academy in Portland and we just talked about the opportunity we have this year and a lot of that comes to being better on defense.”
  • The Bucks’ streak of playing on Christmas Day will continue this upcoming season, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays via The Athletic. Milwaukee’s sixth consecutive appearance during the league’s showcase day will come against the Knicks at New York. Milwaukee is 3-2 in Christmas Day games since the streak began.
  • The Cavaliers’ arena, now called the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, will be getting $24.4MM in publicly funded repairs, according to Lucas Daprile of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a subscriber-only story. However, the exact source of those funds remains a mystery.

Pacers GM Buchanan Talks Brown, Goals For Next Season, More

Entering the offseason, the Pacers knew they’d have to take a “unique” angle in order to sign their top free agent target, swingman Bruce Brown, as general manager Chad Buchanan recently explained to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

What other teams are willing to pay him? And what we were willing to pay him is a big, significant gap,” Buchanan told The Athletic. “We knew that maybe it’s a little more than the market would say, but it was the way we as an organization and as a team have to approach free agency sometimes. We got to be a little creative. We got to maybe go deeper with a pay to get a guy, but it was the guy we wanted.

We wanted to do what it took to get him, and working with his agents, right at the strike of free agency and talking about ‘OK, where were the other teams at? Where would we need to come in to get Bruce to turn down some of these other options from other more established teams than us?’ We’re a young team, and for Bruce to come in and leave a championship team and some other teams (that) are after him to come to play for a young team, we realize it was gonna probably take a unique way to approach luring him to us.”

Brown almost certainly took less total money to sign with the Pacers, inking a two-year, $45MM contract. However, a short-term deal allows him to hit the open market sooner, which could be a plus. And as Buchanan alluded to, Indiana was willing to give him more money in 2023/24 than rival clubs, and his contract includes a team option in year two, giving both sides flexibility — the Pacers could free up cap space next summer if things don’t work out.

The 26-year-old’s strong defense, willingness to “do the dirty work,” and overall versatility appealed to Indiana, according to Buchanan. The team knows it needs to improve defensively to reach its goal of a postseason berth next season.

If we can become a top-20 defense, I think we would make a pretty good jump, have a chance to make a good jump. And competing for a playoff spot, I think we’d love to be in that position this year,” Buchanan said as part of a larger quote. “If it’s a play-in, playoff, wherever it is.”

Indiana has been linked to Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, a two-time All-NBA member, a couple times over the past week. However, when Vorkunov asked Buchanan if the Pacers were finished were their offseason moves, he replied that while they’re always looking to improve the roster, they’re not yet ready to push their chips in the middle in a major win-now move.

I don’t think a team’s done until you’re done,” Buchanan said. “We’ll always try to be opportunistic when we can on anything. But I don’t think we’re like aggressively pursuing anything right now. … Obviously, some big names out there … could get moved still this offseason, and if that filters down and impacts other teams, if it impacts us, we’ll consider it. But, if it doesn’t, we’re also happy with this group now.

We’re not going to rush things to try to jump and go all in right now. I don’t think that’s where we’re at. We don’t have that. We’re not one player away from being a championship-caliber team. I think we realize it takes time and it takes guys developing and growing.”

Knicks Notes: Brown, Toppin, Martin, Bridges

Bruce Brown revealed this week that the Knicks were the only other team he met with before deciding to sign with the Pacers, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brown was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market after helping the Nuggets win the NBA title. Several teams, including New York, were hoping to land him with their mid-level exception, but Indiana blew away its competitors with a two-year, $45MM offer.

“The Knicks were the first (meeting). I think we had others lined up, but we didn’t make it there,” said Brown, who added that he was heavily recruited by Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton.

Bondy notes that Indiana is also the destination for Obi Toppin, who was acquired from New York in exchange for a pair of future second-round picks. Toppin was stuck behind Julius Randle with the Knicks and his defense wasn’t up to coach Tom Thibodeau’s standards, but Indiana views him as a perfect fit for its up-tempo style.

The trade leaves New York with an unbalanced roster that’s heavy on guards and doesn’t have an obvious replacement for Toppin, Bondy adds. The current options are either too small to play power forward or too inexperienced to be counted on for regular minutes.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • With a potential hole in their rotation and plenty of assets available to make an impact trade, the Knicks can’t be done with their offseason, says Peter Botte of The New York Post (subscriber link), arguing that the team still needs to take a big swing if it wants to have a legitimate chance to contend in the East next season.
  • Jaylen Martin, who signed a two-way contract with New York after going undrafted, was one of Overtime Elite’s most talented players, his coach told Ian Begley of Tim Fanning said a hamstring injury that forced Martin to miss two months of the season kept him from getting the same notice as the Thompson twins, who were both lottery picks. “He just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what you want from a basketball player, especially on the wing,” Fanning said. “He was shooting the ball at a great clip from three. His defense and rebounding – his floor game – was spectacular. His transition, (attacking the) close out, also was on another level from the rest of the competition outside of the Thompsons in that first month of the season.”
  • Mikal Bridges, now a cornerstone player for the cross-town Nets, said recently on the Tidal League podcast that he thought he’d be drafted by the Knicks back in 2018 (Twitter video link). “I thought I was going to go to New York at 9,” Bridges said (hat tip to Jeremy Layton of The New York Post). “I was excited though because I wanted to go to the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York, I’m like, ‘That’s lit.’ Like, still close to home, but a little further out – and I love MSG, all my best games in college were there.” New York ended up drafting Kevin Knox with the No. 9 pick, with Bridges going one spot later to Phoenix (via Philadelphia).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Knicks Rumors: George, Barrett, Hart, Embiid, Roby, Quickley

On June 22, the night of last month’s draft, the Knicks contemplated sending the Clippers a trade package that featured Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier and three first-round picks in exchange for star forward Paul George, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

When New York later agreed to trade Toppin to the Pacers for a couple second-rounders, the Clippers briefly brought up RJ Barrett to take his place in the aforementioned trade framework, says Scotto. The Knicks balked at that proposal, believing the asking was price too steep for George, who will make $45.64MM in 2023/24 and is eligible for an extension this offseason, per Scotto.

The Knicks control multiple protected first-round picks from other teams, so it’s unclear whether the first-rounders Scotto mentioned were protected in some fashion or were their own unprotected picks. Either way, apparently the talks didn’t advance.

Still, the Knicks remain on the lookout for a third star to complement Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, according to Scotto.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • According to Ian Begley of, Josh Hart will sign a long-term extension with the Knicks in August once he becomes eligible. His maximum extension number would be $81MM over four years, and Begley hears the veteran wing will receive “slightly less” than that figure. It seems highly likely that Hart exercised his player option in order to give the team more financial flexibility in free agency, with a handshake agreement on an extension.
  • Begley hears from sources who say the Knicks haven’t budged on their asking prices for star players on the trade market, including Damian Lillard and James Harden, and both players are unlikely to wind up in New York. Like Zach Lowe of ESPN, Begley continues to hear the Knicks might be eyeing Joel Embiid in the future.
  • Prior to using their mid-level exception to sign Donte DiVincenzo, the Knicks were interested in several unrestricted free agents, including Bruce Brown, Max Strus and Yuta Watanabe, Scotto states. Brown signed with the Pacers; Strus landed in Cleveland via sign-and-trade; and Watanabe signed with Phoenix.
  • Losing Toppin means New York has rotation minutes available at backup power forward. Scotto hears Isaiah Roby will be given an opportunity to win the job, with Hart an option in small-ball lineups. Roby signed with the Knicks on the last day of the ’22/23 regular season, receiving a significant upfront payment ($400K) that suggested he could be in the team’s future plans.
  • Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Immanuel Quickley‘s floor in a rookie scale extension is expected to be $20MM annually, and Scotto’s sources say the Knicks would consider a deal in that range. However, if the two sides don’t reach an agreement and Quickley continues to improve next season, Scotto says New York might contemplate using him as part of a trade package for a star.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Jazz, Timberwolves Moves, Brown, Jackson, Braun, Wallace

The Jazz will have internal discussions about getting involved in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, according to The Athletic’s Tony Jones.

If they make a run for him, the Jazz could put together an impressive package of expiring contracts and future first-round picks for the Trail Blazers All-Star guard, who requested a trade this weekend. He’d instantly transform a team with a suddenly formidable frontcourt and quality depth into a contender.

The downside is Lillard’s age, defensive deficiencies and gargantuan contract. Jones explores the pros and cons of a potential Jazz trade for Lillard and ultimately concludes it would be worth it, as long as they set a strict limit on what they would give up.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves, after extending Naz Reid, made a number of under-the-radar moves in free agency to help them avoid future tax issues, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. They divvied up their mid-level exception to acquire Shake Milton and Troy Brown, as well as re-signing Nickeil Alexander-Walker via his Bird rights. All of the contracts were two-year deals. Thus, their roster is almost all set for next season and the combined salaries are below the luxury tax threshold.
  • After losing Bruce Brown in free agency to Indiana, the Nuggets have a huge hole to fill in their rotation. Jones explores how Denver will fill up those available minutes. Reggie Jackson, who is re-signing with the club on a two-year deal, is slated to be the backup point guard. Christian Braun will see his minutes expand, presumably as a combo guard.  Denver could also add another piece via free agency to improve its depth.
  • Due to trade restrictions, Cason Wallace will miss the Thunder’s three Summer League games in Salt Lake City, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. Wallace was chosen with the No. 10 pick in a draft-night swap with the Mavericks, who also shipped forward Davis Bertans to OKC in exchange for the No. 12 pick. The trade can’t be finalized until at least Thursday, forcing Wallace to miss those games. However, he’ll be eligible to play in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Scotto’s Latest: Bridges, O’Neale, Finney-Smith, Blazers, Brown, DSJ

While it’s possible the Nets will get involved in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, Mikal Bridges is “not for sale,” league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. That was the case leading up to the draft when the Trail Blazers‘ No. 3 pick was rumored to be on the trade block, and it will be the case again if Brooklyn makes a play for Lillard.

While the Nets aren’t Lillard’s preferred landing spot – he’s reportedly focused on Miami – they could put together a strong package of draft picks and quality players on team-friendly contracts, such as Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith. According to Scotto, in trade negotiations involving those two forwards, Brooklyn has been unwilling to part with O’Neale for less than the equivalent of a first-round pick or Finney-Smith for the equivalent of two first-rounders.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Trail Blazers are expected to discuss Jusuf Nurkic in their Lillard trade talks, Scotto confirms. Meanwhile, even though Jerami Grant is re-signing with Portland, Scotto expects the forward to emerge as a trade candidate down the road, since he may not fit the Blazers’ post-Lillard timeline. The Pistons and Pacers were among the teams expected to have interest in Grant before word broke that he’d be re-signing with the Blazers, Scotto writes.
  • Before he agreed to accept a two-year, $45MM offer from the Pacers, Bruce Brown received six offers in the neighborhood of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4MM), according to Scotto, who says other teams with cap room also inquired on the popular free agent guard.
  • The Nets‘ one-year deal with Dennis Smith Jr. is worth $2.53MM, league sources tell Scotto. That makes it a minimum-salary contract — the veteran’s minimum this season for a player with Smith’s six years of NBA experience is $2,528,233.

Free Agent Rumors: G. Williams, Lakers, Gordon, Vincent, Brooks

The Celtics are letting the market dictate how they proceed with the contract of restricted free agent power forward Grant Williams.

Sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that, since Boston has the right of first refusal on Williams, the team is waiting to see if he gets an offer sheet before making a decision on his future.

The 3-and-D role player could be feeling some roster squeeze if he does return to the Celtics next season, as the club will now boast a frontcourt that features Kristaps Porzingis in addition to Al Horford and Robert Williams III.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Lakers may be open to bringing back unrestricted free agent shooting guard Malik Beasley for next season, even after deciding not to pick up their $16.5MM option on him for 2023/24. Sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports that team president Rob Pelinka still appreciates Beasley as a player and the club has some interest in re-signing him on what would have to be a significantly smaller deal. Fischer adds that the Lakers have not yet made a determination on the future of starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, though both Russell’s management and L.A. had been hopeful about reaching a new long-term deal earlier Friday.
  • Fischer adds that the Raptors were viewed as a prime suitor Gabe Vincent as it became increasingly clear that Fred VanVleet would sign a huge new contract with the Rockets. However, after Lakers mid-level target Bruce Brown joined the Pacers early on in free agency, Los Angeles weighed a pursuit of shooting guard Eric Gordon before ultimately deciding on Vincent. Sources tell Fischer that the Raptors didn’t end up reaching out to Vincent during free agency.
  • The Heat offered Vincent a four-year, $34MM contract to stay in Miami, a source tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (via Twitter). The 27-year-old instead opted for a shorter-term deal with a higher annual salary, accepting a three-year, $33MM offer from the Lakers.
  • The Rockets‘ anticipated meeting with small forward Dillon Brooks is taking place either late on Friday or at some point on Saturday, reports Kelly Iko of The Athletic. According to Iko, the defensive-oriented 6’7″ swingman has had conversations with the Bucks and Lakers on Friday while Houston focused on locking up VanVleet. Now that the Lakers have committed most of their mid-level exception to Vincent, they’re likely no longer a viable landing spot for Brooks, Iko notes.

Pacers Sign Bruce Brown To Two-Year Contract

JULY 6: Brown has officially signed with the Pacers, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JUNE 30: Fresh off a championship run with the Nuggets, Bruce Brown is leaving Denver for Indiana, per Alex Golden of Setting The Pace (Twitter link).

Brown is getting a significant pay raise from the Pacers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). He’ll sign a two-year contract worth $45MM, agents Ty Sullivan and Steven Heumann tell ESPN’s duo.

According to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link), Brown’s new deal will include a second-year team option, so it sounds like only the first year will be guaranteed. Still, it’s a huge pay bump for Brown, who had only earned a total of $15MM across his first five NBA seasons.

Having signed with the Nuggets last summer following a two-year stint in Brooklyn, Brown averaged a career-best 11.5 points per night on .483/.358/.758 shooting in 80 games (28.5 MPG) this past season.

The 26-year-old also contributed 4.1 RPG and 3.4 APG while handling a variety of defensive assignments. In the postseason, he played the most minutes of any Denver reserve, bumping his scoring average to 12.0 PPG while shooting 51.1% from the floor.

Because Brown signed with the Nuggets just one year ago, the team only held his Non-Bird rights, which limited their maximum offer to about $7.8MM, a 20% raise on his previous $6.5MM salary. The club reportedly made that offer, but it didn’t come close to the deal the Pacers put on the table.

Brown was the No. 14 free agent on our top-50 list. His deal will come out of Indiana’s cap room. The team still projects to have nearly $15MM in space after accounting for Brown’s contract, tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype.

Pacers May Offer Bruce Brown More Than $20MM Per Year

The Pacers may be prepared to offer Nuggets free agent Bruce Brown a contract worth more than $20MM per season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Brown has become one of the hottest names on the free agent market, and several teams are hoping to land him with the $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Brown has reportedly scheduled meetings with five teams — the Knicks, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers as well as Indiana. The Cavaliers and Timberwolves also consider Brown their top target, according to Fischer.

The Pacers have roughly $30MM in cap room, so signing Brown would account for most of that and would take them out of the running for other free agents, such as Heat shooting guard Max Strus.

Returning to Denver is also in play for Brown, according to Fischer, although the Nuggets can only pay him $7.8MM next season. Brown would be eligible to earn more than $50MM over four years from Denver next summer, which is still well short of the Pacers’ reported offer.