Trevor Booker on Signing with the Pacers

March 5, 2018 - Trevor Bookers speaks to the Pacers media about what he expects to bring to Indy after signing with the team.

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Trevor Booker on Signing with the Pacers

March 5, 2018 - Trevor Bookers speaks to the Pacers media about what he expects to bring to Indy after signing with the team.
Mar 5, 2018  |  04:14

Booker's Homework Leads Him to Pacers

by Mark Montieth Writer

Trevor Booker is part-owner of multiple business, as many as 18 when last reported, and is a serious real estate investor. Researching a prospective opportunity, then, is nothing new for him.

Although he had offers from a few other NBA teams after he was waived by Philadelphia on Feb. 28, including some destined for the playoffs, Booker chose the Pacers after consulting with people familiar with the current team. The fit, timing, and opportunity seemed right for him, so he made a business decision.

"I had a few options, but I looked at how well the team was playing, the group of guys they had," he said. "I factored in everything. I thought I could come to this team and bring something positive."

Booker arrives without pretense or hype. He's not an All-Star, he won't be a starter unless injuries require him to be, and he isn't going to become the locker room leader. What he'll do is contribute in a variety of ways, add depth, take some of the minutes load off Thaddeus Young and slip seamlessly into the team culture.

Oh, and he might be good for a trick shot or two.

Bojan Bogdanovic, who played with Booker for the majority of last season in Brooklyn, knows him best of all the Pacers.

"First of all, he's a great guy," Bogdanovic said following Monday's victory over Milwaukee, a game Booker watched in uniform from the bench. "I think we have the best locker room in the league, so he's going to fit perfectly into the locker room. He's the guy we needed to back up Thad. He can play great defense and he can switch onto any position and guard them."

Booker, 6-foot-8, 228 pounds, was a hot commodity less than two years ago. After averaging 5.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per game with Utah, he signed a two-year, $18.5 million contract with the Nets in July of 2016. He was to be the replacement at power forward for Young, who had just been traded to the Pacers for their first-round draft pick.

PHOTO GALLERY: Trevor Booker's Career in Photos »

A article praised the signing, claiming, "Booker does the little things on the court like setting screens and crashing the boards."

Booker, 30, lived up to that contract by averaging 10 points (on 51 percent shooting) and eight rebounds while starting 43 of the 71 games he played last season. He started this season well, too, coming off the bench to contribute 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Pacers in the season opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

He was averaging 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists when on Dec. 7 the Nets traded him to Philadelphia for a wealth of talent: former No. 3 pick in the draft, Jahlil Okafor, former No. 8 pick Nik Stauskas, and a 2019 second-round pick. The 76ers had been trying to unload Okafor, who was wasting away on their bench, and the Nets thought the potential of the acquired talent in that deal was too good to pass up.

Although that trade was made primarily to cut ties with Okafor, Sixers coach Brett Brown was excited by what he was getting in the exchange.

"I think that we're getting a man," Brown said of Booker. "I think we're getting a veteran that has been there, done that. There is a level of toughness and versatility that interests me. He's shown that he can play and handle not playing and be good people in handling himself like a pro.

"I have several friends who have coached Trevor, and to a man he just comes off as good people, extremely professional and incredibly competitive and tough."

Booker never quite fit into Philadelphia's scheme, however. After scoring in double figures in his first three outings with the 76ers, he wound up averaging just 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. The Sixers saw a better fit for their system when Atlanta waived Ersan Ilyasova, and waived Booker to make room.

"I wasn't as comfortable as I was in Brooklyn," Booker said. "I think I'll fit in here a lot better."

Booker wouldn't say which teams offered him a contract for the rest of the season, nor would he reveal who he talked with for his research project before selecting the Pacers.

"Can't give away my sources," he said, smiling.

Generally, though, he talked with people — not former players — who had reason to be familiar with some of the players on the current team and the front office members.

"I talked around," he said. "They said everything was great here. A lot of positive energy, the staff is great, management, the players...that had a lot to do with my choice.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan welcomes Booker's arrival. The memory of his 20-10 outburst in the season-opener hasn't faded from his memory, nor has coaching against Booker over the previous seven seasons.

"Whenever we talk about bringing guys on board, we always talk about how I prepare for them," McMillan said. "Since he's been in the league, he's a guy I've talked about, his ability to have an impact on the game.

"His ability to run the floor, he defends, he brings a physicality to the game at that position. He can guard a big physical four, some fives and he can guard a small, athletic four. He brings versatility coming off the bench."

Booker also will bring relief for Young, who has played more minutes than any Pacers player and averages more (32.8) than anyone but Victor Oladipo. McMillan has played Domantas Sabonis some at power forward and thrown rookie TJ Leaf into the mix occasionally as well. Sabonis has been more effective as a center, however, and the 20-year-old Leaf is not yet physically prepared to defend many power forwards. That won't be a problem for Booker, who has the strength and quickness to guard multiple positions.

McMillan expects Booker to become a regular part of the playing rotation, completing a 10-man group that will provide a capable backup at each position once starting point guard Darren Collison returns. Booker will join Sabonis, Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson, and Glenn Robinson III in the second unit, enabling McMillan to keep starters fresher for the postseason run and a possible playoff appearance.

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If necessary, McMillan can go even deeper. Al Jefferson, Joe Young, and Leaf all have made solid contributions this season. McMillan originally planned for a nine-man rotation, and at times has gone only eight deep when injuries thinned his roster. Booker, though, will enable him to cast a wider net over the 240 minutes of available playing time.

"It's tough to play 10 guys, but now it gives us some insurance if something happens at that power forward position," McMillan said. "It allows us to have more depth at every position."

That will be fine with Young, who would rather share playing time with Booker than play against him, as he's done so often over the years.

"He just brings so many aspects to the game," Young said. "Me playing against him all the time, I know he's created some tough matchups for me. I think he's going to work wonders for us, especially with that second unit."

McMillan had no intention of throwing Booker into Monday's game, given Booker's lack of practice time with the team and unfamiliarity with the system. Booker, though, will be available for Wednesday's game against one of his four former teams, Utah. So far, his only on-court experience with his new teammates has been a walkthrough on Monday afternoon and pre-game warmups that evening.

He looked like he belonged, having already secured a pair of yellow shoes and mixing comfortably with the other players. At this extremely early stage, his research appears to have generated accurate information.

"It's everything that I heard," he said. "Great chemistry, no big egos. It's all positive."

Get to Know Trevor Booker

Born: Nov. 25, 1987
Size: 6-foot-8, 228 pounds
College: Clemson
Drafted: No. 23 overall by Minnesota in 2010, but was part of a draft-day trade with Washington.

Career Highlights:

  • He has three younger brothers. One of them, Devin, also played at Clemson and now plays in Europe.
  • One would have to go up nine spots in the 2010 draft to get to a player (Patrick Patterson) who has played in more NBA games than Booker.
  • He was the state's Player of the Year in South Carolina in 2006.
  • He was a three-star recruit out of high school. His Wikipedia entry lists Purdue as one of his collegiate choices.
  • He averaged 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds his junior season at Clemson but elected to return for his senior season.
  • He played in Israel during the NBA lockout of 2010.
  • He scored a career-high 36 points for Utah on April 11, 2015. Prior to that, his career high was 17. He scored 19 in the first quarter of that game.
  • He also hit all four 3-point attempts in that game - odd, for a 31 percent 3-point shooter.
  • He's a model of consistency. His statistics for home games and road games are eerily similar.
  • He is a cousin of former Pacers forward Jordan Hill.
  • His varied business interests include minority ownership of the DC United soccer team in Washington D.C.

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Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.