One-on-One with Malcolm Brogdon

New Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon discusses coming to Indiana, how he fits next to Victor Oladipo, his respect for Pacers greats, and the work he does with his non-profit.

Malcolm Brogdon Press Conference 190708

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One-on-One with Malcolm Brogdon

New Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon discusses coming to Indiana, how he fits next to Victor Oladipo, his respect for Pacers greats, and the work he does with his non-profit.
Jul 18, 2019  |  02:54

Malcolm Brogdon's Introductory Press Conference

July 8, 2019 - Watch the complete press conference of Malcolm Brogdon being introduced as a member of the Pacers alongside head coach Nate McMillan and president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.
Jul 8, 2019  |  21:23

Brogdon on Joining the Pacers, Playing Alongside Oladipo

July 8, 2019 - Newly-acquired guard Malcolm Brogdon talked about how he sees his fit with the Pacers and why he thinks a backcourt with himself and Oladipo makes for a perfect combination.
Jul 8, 2019  |  02:32

McMillan on Brogdon: "It's a Perfect Fit"

July 8, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan talked about how he sees Brogdon fitting into the lineup and how he reacted to the news that they had a shot to acquire the standout guard.
Jul 8, 2019  |  01:54

Pritchard on Acquiring Brogdon: "Epic Day"

July 8, 2019 - Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard spoke to the media about acquiring Malcolm Brogdon and discussed what makes the guard such a strong fit in Indiana.
Jul 8, 2019  |  04:19

Highlights: Malcolm Brogdon

July 6, 2019: Check out some of the best plays from Malcolm Brogdon's NBA career.
Jul 6, 2019  |  01:00

Brogdon, Pacers Finally Come Together

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Kevin Pritchard has instilled the "three Ts" as the Pacers' motto, but Nate McMillan has an additional set of alliterative guidelines. He preaches the three Cs: calm, clear, consistent.

But, upon landing at Indianapolis International Airport on the evening of June 30 and learning the Pacers had landed Malcolm Brogdon in a trade, the C-worthy coach broke character. Nearly broke his vocal cords, too, the way the story is told.

"I think I started screaming into the phone," McMillan volunteered on Monday, when Brogdon was introduced at a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"The most excited I've seen him in 10 years," confirmed Pritchard, the Pacers' president of basketball operations. "I think he said "Really?!" like 15 times in a row. He kept going, 'Really?! Really?!'"

It's safe to say – really safe – that McMillan's enthusiasm over the acquisition of the combo guard who played the previous three seasons in Milwaukee is widely shared within the Pacers' front office. Pritchard used the term "epic" four times over the course of the press conference and individual conversations to describe the impact of the transaction and did not hesitate to climb out on a potentially hazardous limb.

"This is one of the best days in this franchise's history," he said.

Brogdon comes to the Pacers as the biggest piece of a promising free agent/trade haul, filling their greatest need: point guard. He can play off the ball as well, as he did on occasion in Milwaukee, but considers quarterback his best position and eagerly awaits the opportunity to take over the controls of the Pacers' offense.

Throw in another "really" to accentuate his eagerness if you like, because the catch to this story is that Brogdon wanted the Pacers as badly as they wanted him. If ever there was a match made in basketball heaven, delayed as it was, this was it.

Brogdon doesn't have the status of an NBA superstar, but he comes with credentials. He was voted Rookie of the Year for the 2016-17 season and became the eighth player in league history to join the 50-40-90 club last season after shooting .505 from the field, .426 from 3-point range and a league-best .928 from the foul line. He's also 26 years old, merging smoothly with the rest of the Pacers' middle-aged roster.

The foundation of all the fuss surrounding his arrival, though, comes down to fit. The Pacers believe he's the right point guard for this team and this time, not only for his skill set and athleticism but for his intangibles. He qualifies as a complete player, equally dedicated to both ends of the court, as well as a natural leader.

"You can look at my three percentage, you can look at whatever people want to say, but I think it's my IQ and my ability to win and bring people together that's my strongest asset," he said matter-of-factly.

"He does it by example," McMillan said. "He's soft-spoken, but you listen to that guy. He is a guy you will follow and I think it's important that you have that guy at the point guard position."

Malcolm Brogdon

Photo Credit: Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

Simon says: Let's make a deal

Now that the relationship has been consummated, it seems as if Brogdon and the Pacers have always been destined to get together.

Brogdon became the first player to be voted Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference coming out of Virginia in 2016, but was downgraded in the draft because he lacked upside. He had stayed at Virginia for five years, including a medical redshirt season, and was 24 years old.

The Pacers wanted him, though, and the feeling was mutual. His agency put together a list of six or seven teams that would suit him best, with the Pacers at the top. Brogdon relayed that to team president Larry Bird in their interview at the pre-draft gathering in Chicago and maintains it wasn't a sweet nothing he whispered to all the teams.

"Indiana was my No. 1 target in the draft," he says, a point confirmed by his primary agent, Danielle Cantor. "We had decided that was the best fit for me. With coach McMillan being a former second-round pick and sort of having a similar path to the NBA as me and a team that was growing but could use what I bring to the table … we were really pushing for me to go there. I loved everything about the makeup of the team and the organization."

Bird had traded the Pacers' draft pick, 20th overall, to Brooklyn for Thad Young that season, but tried to acquire another first-round selection to take Brogdon. When Brogdon slid into the second round, Bird's interest intensified.

"We were going crazy on the phone to try to get (a second-round selection)," said Pritchard, who was Bird's lead assistant at the time. "We had one (agreed upon) a little further down and we were going to take him, but it didn't work out."

The Bucks took Brogdon with the 36th overall pick, and were handsomely rewarded when he won Rookie of the Year honors. But another hook-up opportunity with the Pacers arose this year when Brogdon essentially became too rich for the Bucks' blood.

They won a league-high 60 games and took a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the conference finals before succumbing in six games, but their off-season brought some difficult personnel decisions. League MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo already owns a max contract, and Khris Middleton, who made his first All-Star appearance last season, signed a five-year deal near max level. Point guard Eric Bledsoe has four more seasons left on a deal that will pay more than $15 million next season, so re-signing Brogdon would plunge them deep into luxury tax penalties.

That made him one of the most enticing restricted free agents in the NBA, and this time the timing was right. Cantor once again notified the Pacers they were No. 1 on his list of desired destinations.

"This was the fit," she says now. "We were pushing this one hard."

Given the relationship established before the draft three years ago, Pritchard believed her.

"From the very first call from Danielle, I knew in my heart … sometimes agents say a player really wants to be there and you go, 'Oh, right.' I really felt a sincere desire for them to engage with us," Pritchard said.

The feeling was mutual. Pritchard says Brogdon ranked first on their list of desired point guards, but figured there was only about a 10 percent chance of making it happen because of his restricted status.

Pacers owner Herb Simon doesn't deal in restricted free agency, considering it bad business to raid another team's roster and either take a key player or drive up his salary. The shopping mall magnate prefers win-win transactions that leave no bitter feelings. So, he contacted Milwaukee ownership and offered a first-round draft pick and two second-rounders for Brogdon.

One could argue the Pacers should have played hardball and presented an offer sheet to try to acquire Brogdon without giving up draft picks, but factors beyond Simon's business ethic come into play.

For one, allowing Brogdon to go up for bid in the open marketplace would have brought other teams into the mix and potentially enabled one to outbid the Pacers. It also would have left open the possibility the Bucks would have a change of heart, take a hard gulp, and match the Pacers' offer.

Perhaps most threatening of all, it would have put the Pacers on hold at a crucial time in free agency. They would have been essentially frozen while awaiting the offer sheet process to play out. By the time they learned whether they could sign Brogdon, other targeted players might have signed elsewhere. And, if their offer for Brogdon was not accepted, they might have had to settle for free agent scraps.

"When you can avoid the offer sheet situation, it's always best," Cantor said.

"The deal would not have gotten done if Herb Simon had not called (Milwaukee co-owner) Marc Lasry and convinced him to work together. It worked for everyone."

Added Pritchard: "I'm absolutely convinced this doesn't happen without Herb making that call."

Clicking with Vic, Indiana

One of Brogdon's most immediate tasks will be to establish chemistry with Victor Oladipo, the lone Pacer with an All-Star game appearance to his credit. Oladipo reached out to Brogdon within an hour of learning he would become a teammate to welcome him and begin making plans to get better acquainted.

Brogdon will fly to Las Vegas on Tuesday to begin workouts with Oladipo at a high school gymnasium. Oladipo is rehabbing the torn quad tendon that kept him out of the final 34 games last season, but Brogdon figures they'll find something to do together.

"He'll be up to enough speed we can get a workout in," he said. "Whatever he can do, that's what we'll do.

Oladipo had good chemistry with the Pacers' previous point guard, Darren Collison, because Collison did not need the ball to be happy or effective. Oladipo is at his best when utilizing his quickness to take defenders off the dribble, so he pairs well with an egoless backcourt partner capable of scoring from the perimeter as a fallback option.

Brogdon says he will embrace that role.

"Our games fit together extremely well," he said. "I'm not a guy coming in here to take over. This is Victor's team. This is his franchise. I want to help Victor be an all-star every year; be a superstar.

"He can have the ball in his hands as much as he wants, but when he doesn't want the ball he can trust that his point guard will make good decisions and step up for him."

Brogdon says his approach also will apply to the rest of the starters – Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Warren.

"I have a really good feeling about this team," he said. "There's some great talent on the floor. My goal is not to take any possessions from them, it's to give them more possessions, to give them more freedom, to give them more space with my shooting ability so they can reach their potential."

Brogdon has an equally positive feeling about playing in Indiana. He referred to the movie "Hoosiers," former Indiana University coach Bob Knight, Reggie Miller and the number of NBA players who can trace their roots to the state during the press conference.

"I look at Indiana as the original basketball state," he said. "I know people here love basketball as much as any city in the country."

He's looking forward to living in that city, too.

"I do not like attention," he said. "I grew up in Atlanta, I love big cities, but I enjoy living in a small city. People seem to embrace you way more, especially a team like this. This state loves basketball and I'm excited to be part of that.

"Now I think I'm in the right situation. I'm as happy as I've been in my basketball career."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

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.

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