The Indiana Pacers sent guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics via trade on the second day of free agency. The Eastern Conference champions add another player to their rotation after signing Danilo Gallinari, and the Pacers continue their rebuild centered around Tyrese Haliburton and lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin. Who won the deal?
Boston receives: Malcolm Brogdon (guard)
Brad Stevens continues to do tremendous as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. In just over a year, the Celtics traded for Josh Richardson, then flipped him to San Antonio for Derrick White. He reacquired Al Horford for Kemba Walker, whose health issues have continued. The Celtics traded Dennis Schröder for Theis during the season, and have now packaged Theis with other non-rotation players for a starting-caliber point guard in Brogdon. White and Horford were important contributors during Boston’s playoff run, and Brogdon helps solidify the roster for a playoff run next season.
Brogdon will be an incredibly malleable piece for head coach Ime Udoka. At 6’5”, Brogdon can play and defend either guard spot effectively. He’s averaged near 20 points per game his last two seasons (19.1 and 21.2, specifically) with 5.9 assists each year as a pure point guard in Indiana. He played effectively off of Giannis Antetokounmpo during his first three seasons in Milwaukee, and he’ll be able to play with or without the ball depending on the Celtics’ team needs. Most importantly, Brogdon will be a steadying force for a team that struggled with turnovers all season and in the playoffs. Brogdon has injury concerns and has missed at least 15 games in every season after his rookie year. The Celtics’ depth will allow them to manage Brogdon’s minutes during the season.
Boston’s main rotation looks incredibly formidable now, and they should be the favorites in the East unless the Miami Heat can trade for Kevin Durant. Here’s a look at their main players, as they project to have one of the best 10-man rotations next season:
Centers: Robert Williams, Horford
This is also a quality deal from Indiana’s perspective, although one wonders if they could have pried Pritchard from Boston in place of Nesmith. Nesmith is theoretically a wing defender and shooter. The Pacers need players to defend small forwards if T.J. Warren leaves or continues to be injured, so Nesmith is worth a flier.
The first-round pick Indiana received headlines the deal. It’s still unclear if there are protections on the pick. The pick will likely be in the mid-to-late 20’s and convey to Indiana, barring a catastrophic injury to Tatum. Indiana traded a first and two seconds in the original trade to acquire Brogdon, and they get a first back here. (That pick was #30 in the 2020 draft, and eventually routed to Memphis which selected Desmond Bane. Indiana, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Boston all owned the pick before it was traded to Memphis.)
Theis could factor into the Pacers’ rotation, especially if Myles Turner is traded. Don’t expect Indiana to trade him for value, though. Houston could only get Schröder and players they immediately waived when they moved him at the 2022 trade deadline. Stauskus, Fitts, and Morgan likely won’t contribute much. Boston signed those players late last season after trading for Theis and White to fill their open roster spots. Morgan got minutes in Utah a couple of seasons ago, and he could be worthy of on-court action.