Years Pro: 8
Status: Is an unrestricted free agent.
Key Stats: Averaged 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 68 games while playing for Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Indiana. Averaged 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17 games with the Pacers.
Trevor Booker arrived late to the scene but seemed to fit in perfectly with the Pacers. If it were up to him, he wouldn't be merely passing through.
Booker joined the Pacers as a free agent signee for their final 18 games. He immediately stepped into the rotation as the backup to Thaddeus Young, then got an unexpectedly expanded role when Domantas Sabonis had to miss six games with a sprained ankle. He played in all but one game after making his debut against Utah on March 7, sitting out a road game at Sacramento with a sprained ankle, and brought needed assets: namely, rebounding, physicality, enthusiasm, and maturity.
He didn't bring much shooting from beyond 10 feet, though, and that's what makes him a role player who's played for five teams in his eight NBA seasons.
Booker hit his first two 3-point attempts with the Pacers, in the closing minutes of a home game against Atlanta, but that might not have been a good thing if it encouraged him to keep shooting. He hit just one of his final 12 3-point attempts.
PHOTO GALLERY: Trevor Booker's 2017-18 Season in Photos »
Still, he contributed in many ways, tangible and otherwise. He was the Pacers' third-best rebounder on a per-minute basis among the rotation players, and their best offensive rebounder by a significant margin. He averaged 4.3 offensive rebounds for every 36 minutes of action, one more than Sabonis averaged over the same extrapolated time span.
He also produced more assists than turnovers (17-9), a rarity for power forwards and centers but something he's done routinely since his second season.
"He's a hard-nosed guy who's going to go out and rebound the basketball," Thad Young said shortly after Booker was acquired. "He has the ability to score on the block. To make a few jumpers here and there — not consistently, but he gives us the energy and the poise and the passion that we need. When he's stepping out there with that second unit he does a really good job of carving out space and putting guys in the right place."
The best example of what Booker can do was shown to the fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a game against the Pacers. Booker, playing off Brooklyn's bench in the season-opener, scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds — six on offense — in 28 minutes. The Nets lost, but Booker had turned in a winning performance.
He was traded to Philadelphia in December for former lottery picks Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskus, along with a first-round draft pick. Sixers coach Brett Brown talked highly of him when the deal was made, but Booker's playing time diminished and he was waived when Ersan Ilyasova — a better scorer — became available in March.
Booker, a first-round pick by Minnesota in 2010, brought a needed macho element to the Pacers, both on the court and in the locker room. He made hustle plays around the basket, grabbing the kind of rebounds a player has to go and get, and scored in traffic. He also enhanced his game with a dash of boldness. Remember those specially-designed playoff shoes, with the famous image of Reggie Miller giving the choke sign in 1994? That was quite a statement from a newcomer who played just 15 minutes per game on average, and just nine in the playoffs.
He's also a legitimate businessman who claims to be an owner or major investor in 18 companies. He dressed the part by wearing a stylish business suit to most home games and has a stated goal of becoming a billionaire. Safe to say, he's a grown-up. The Pacers already were a mature team when he arrived, but it didn't hurt to add another adult to the locker room.
Booker is an unrestricted free agent but tweeted his desire to re-sign with the Pacers after the season ended. The front office brain trust surely isn't opposed to having him back, but there will be options to consider other than a 6-foot-8 power forward with limited scoring range. The offseason will simply have to play itself out before his fate can be determined.
Those special edition "Reggie" playoff shoes are being auctioned off for charity, but the memory of Booker's bravado remains. Whatever his fate, he was a welcome addition for as long as it lasted.
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