Trade Breakdown: Malcolm Brogdon to Celtics


This is the eighth entry in our series breaking down the top trades of the 2022 offseason. Instead of giving ratings, this series will explore Why the teams were motivated to take action. Let’s dive into a deal that sent the 2017 Rookie of the Year from Pacers to Celtics

The day after free agency began, the Pacers agreed to send Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics in exchange for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Juwan Morgan, Malik Fitt and the Celtics’ 2023 first-round pick (top 12 protected). Stauskas, Morgan and Fitts were later waived by Indiana, so they are no longer on the team’s roster.


The Pacers’ perspective:

Why would the Pacers be willing to give up a player who averaged 21.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.9 APG on .453/.388/.864 shooting just two seasons ago?

After sending All-Star twice Domantas Sabonis in Sacramento in February for a forfeit titled by the point guard Tyrese Haliburtonthe Pacers did signal that a retooling process was underway and Brogdon’s time in Indiana was coming to an end.

The problem was that Brogdon was injured for much of 2021/22 and wasn’t eligible to be traded after signing a veteran extension just before the start of the season, so the Pacers had to wait until the end of the season. season to treat it.

Injury issues plagued Brogdon throughout his six-year career. He missed 140 regular season games during that span, appearing in an average of just over 70% of his team’s games.

Last season he missed a career-high 46 games, although it’s possible he was deliberately left out of some of those competitions for tanking purposes and to safeguard his long-term health.

Brogdon will earn $67.6 million over the next three seasons, including $22.6 million in 22/23. In order to match his salary and make the trade legal, the Celtics had to include five players in their package – the most expensive of those players, Theis, earns $8.69 million next season, while Nesmith will earn 3, $8 million. Only Theis has guaranteed money beyond next season, earning $9.1 million in 23/24.

By losing Brogdon’s salary, by giving up Duan Washingtonof the unsecured deal and using the stretch provision to spread the partial guarantees owed to Stauskas, Morgan and Fitts over three seasons, the Pacers created enough space to sign a restricted free agent Deandre Ayton to a four-year maximum salary offer sheet. The Suns ended up matching the offer, so Indiana still has about $31 million cap available heading into the 22/23 season.

After playing a top role for the Bucks from 2016-2019, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 3.6 APG on .484/.408/.895 shooting while playing a solid defense, Brogdon wanted an expanded role and was signed-and-traded to Indiana for a first-round pick and two second-round picks.

Brogdon had his ups and downs with the Pacers. His tally stats have certainly improved on paper, as he averaged 18.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 6.3 APG over the past three seasons. However, he stepped back on defense and his scoring efficiency took a hit – his .447/.352/.872 line of fire was still solid, but nothing special.

At 29, Brogdon no longer fits Indiana’s rebuilding schedule. He had been the team’s primary ball handler when healthy, but with Haliburton on board he became superfluous.

I’m skeptical that Theis will play much for Indiana after having a bad season in the first year of his new contract, especially since he’s 30 himself. He could be a veteran presence for a young team, but the majority of frontcourt minutes will go to Jalen Smithwho re-signed with the Pacers in free agency, sophomore big man isaiah jacksonand veteran center Myles Turner – assuming he’s still on the list.

After being selected No. 14 overall in the 2020 draft, Nesmith never found a foothold in Boston’s rotation in his first two NBA seasons, appearing in a total of 98 games for an average of just 12.7 MPG. I’m sure that was partly down to his performance – he averaged 4.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG shooting .417/.318/.796 – but he was also stuck behind two of the best wings in the game. league in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brownso the minutes were hard to come by.

The Pacers are reportedly considering Nesmith a potential “3-and-D” player, and at 22, he’s fitting into Indiana’s youth movement. There are untapped advantages here – he was the last pick in the lottery two years ago – but whether or not that materializes will depend on Nesmith.

Still, the main appeal of this trade for Indiana was to remove Brogdon’s long-term salary and add Boston’s 2023 first-round pick, who will likely be in his late 20s. The Pacers also control their own first-round pick next season as well as the Cavaliers’ lottery-protected pick, so they could have up to three first-round selections in the 2023 draft.

The Celtics’ perspective:

By acquiring Brogdon, Boston gave up nothing of significant value from last season’s team, which advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, ultimately losing in six games to the Warriors. Theis was the only player of the outgoing five plays to play semi-regular postseason minutes, but he had a pretty appalling performance – the team was 14 points per 100 possessions better with him off the court than on it. .

Giving up a future first-rounder slated to land in the late 20s is a classic win-now move for a Celtics side hoping to win two more playoff games in 22/23 to secure an 18.e title, potentially breaking a tie with the Lakers for the most championships in NBA history.

Following the addition of Brogdon’s $22.6 million salary and signing Danilo Gallinari except for mid-level taxpayers, the Celtics will be well past the luxury tax line next season, another sign that Boston is invested in winning the championship.

Brogdon is a talented and skilled player. At 6’5″ and 229 pounds, he’s more of a combo guard than a playmaker, which has its pros and cons.

Part of the reason he was uncomfortable with the Pacers at times is that he primarily functioned as the team’s playmaker, but he’s not fast enough to stay in front of smaller and bigger players. sly. He is, however, able to keep bigger wings, as he uses his strength and tenacity to hold his own.

Brogdon also uses this strength on offense to his advantage, intimidating smaller players in drives to the basket. He’s not the fastest or most athletic player, but he can get to his spots for the most part and does a great job of contract drawing.

During Brogdon’s tenure, the Pacers also had Victor Oladipo and Caris The Green in the back, two other players who score the first goal and who are not great shooters. This sometimes led to nasty “it’s my turn now” offensive possessions instead of good ball movement.

If Brogdon tries to play like he did for the Pacers, Celtics fans probably won’t be happy with the results, but if he accepts his role as a sixth man and acts more like a third-party point guard like he did with Milwaukee, he could be an ideal fit offensively.

During his run with the Bucks, Brogdon attempted 22.9% of his threes from the corners and converted 48.9% of those looks – an elite number. With Indiana, only 11.3% of his three-point attempts came from corners and he converted 37.1%. Again, this was partly the result of Indiana having poor spacing and Brogdon serving as the primary ball handler.

Brodgon’s shot is slow and mechanical, with a low trigger point. He needs time to get rid of it. But he’ll get plenty of open looks from the corners if he plays in the mainstream of Boston’s offense.

While Brogdon is a major offensive upgrade on both Smart Marcus and Derrick White, this is a significant downgrade defensively. He’s not a handicap, but he’s not a positive either, especially when guarding small players. Al Horford and Robert Williams will help allay some of these concerns.

I’m curious to see how Brogdon and White will play together, as both are smart passers when so inclined. Both need space to feel comfortable taking jump shots.

It’s hard not to consider this trade a win for the Celtics, even though the Pacers also achieved their goal of taking away Brogdon’s salary, adding another first-rounder and creating more playing time for their youngster. core.

Brogdon is a very productive player. He could be the missing piece that propels the Celtics to the top if they manage to reach the Finals again.

The only real question about Boston’s end is, can he stay healthy? If so, the team has acquired a player who is an offensive upgrade over one of their starting guards without taking anything away from his core.