Free agent guard Bruce Brown has signed with the Indiana Pacers.
The veteran role player parlayed his key role in Denver’s championship run into the first big payday of his career with a two-year, $45 million contract from Indiana, per multiple reports.
we have signed free agent forward Bruce Brown.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) July 6, 2023
ESPN reporting with @malikaandrews: Free agent Bruce Brown has agreed on a two-year, $45M deal with the Indiana Pacers, his agents Ty Sullivan and Steven Heumann of @CAASports tell ESPN. Denver — limited in what it could pay — loses a key piece to its repeat hopes.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2023
— Mike Singer (@msinger) June 30, 2023
Less than 30 minutes after teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents Friday, the Pacers and Bruce Brown Jr. agreed on a two-year contract worth $45 million, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Friday.
Brown made $6.5 million last season and the Pacers were one of the league’s few teams that was so far below the cap threshold, luxury tax or new second apron, they took a big swing for the fences.
What does Brown do for the Pacers?
He’s another young, emerging player seemingly ready for a breakout season and he’s the third defensive-minded guy Indiana has added since last week. The Pacers used their two first-round picks on power forward Jarace Walker and wing Ben Sheppard.
Coach Rick Carlisle made it clear what the Pacers needed to do during the offseason after Indiana allowed 119.5 points, the second-most in the league.
“With the excitement that’s been generated from the positives of this season, we must be very forthright about our challenges,” Carlisle said at April’s season-ending news conference. “Our challenges remain defense and rebounding.”
Brown joins a roster that already includes popular All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, two-time NBA blocks champion Myles Turner and all-rookie swingman Bennedict Mathurin.
Brown signed with Denver last summer and became an integral piece off the bench for the Nuggets. He can play either guard position or small forward and averaged 12 points and four rebounds per game in a postseason that culminated with Denver knocking off the Miami Heat in five games during the NBA Finals to win its first NBA title.
Last season, Brown averaged 11.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.4 apg and 1.1 spg while starting 31 of 80 games for Denver. His biggest performance of the playoffs came in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, as he poured in 21 points off the bench to give Denver a 3-1 series edge in a game where star big man Nikola Jokic exited early in the fourth quarter due to foul trouble.
It was quite the impact from Brown, signed away from the Brooklyn Nets last offseason in free agency. Malone saw what Brown did defensively against Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in the playoffs and hoped the 26-year-old would be able to help run Denver’s offense.
A former second-round pick in 2018 by Detroit out of the University of Miami, Brown played two seasons with the Pistons, and two more with Brooklyn, before joining a Nuggets team that includes a core of Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Jokic, the reigning Finals MVP.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.