Pacers trade Malcolm Brogdon to Celtics for 2023 1st-round pick, clear salary cap space

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INDIANAPOLIS — Trade rumors hovered over Malcolm Brogdon since the season ended, and now he has a new home. The Pacers traded the injury-prone point guard to the Celtics on Friday, a league source confirmed to IndyStar. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal.

In return for Brogdon, 29, Indiana will receive Boston' 2023 first-round pick, guard Nik Stauskas, and forwards Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Juwan Morgan and Malik Fitts. Morgan, 25, played at IU and received second-team and third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

After the Pacers traded two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis to the Kings in a package for budding star point guard Tyrese Haliburton last season, Brogdon was understandably the odd man out. He and Haliburton play the same position and shared the court for only eight games due to Brogdon being limited to a career-low 36 games last season because of injuries.

Haliburton averaged 18.6 points and 10.1 assists in 18 games without Brogdon compared to 14.9 points and 8.5 assists with Brogdon. The 22-year-old also shot better from the field (50.9% vs. 48.4%) and 3-point line (45.7% vs. 33.3%) without Brogdon.

Malcolm Brogdon watches as the Pacers warm up against the Heat at FTX Arena in Miami on Dec. 21, 2021.
Malcolm Brogdon watches as the Pacers warm up against the Heat at FTX Arena in Miami on Dec. 21, 2021.

When healthy, Brogdon is a productive player who could bolster Boston's chances to contend for a championship again after losing in the Finals to Golden State. The 6-5 guard averaged 19.1 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game during the 2021-22 season.

According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, this trade increases Indiana's projected cap space to $31 million, which is enough to acquire a max-contract player.

The Pacers could potentially use it to sign Phoenix star Deandre Ayton, who is a restricted free agent but isn't expected to return to the Suns since they refuse to offer him a max deal. Ayton, 23, averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season.

Nesmith was the 14th pick in the 2020 draft with a reputation as a shooter but saw his 3-point shooting drop from 37.0% to 27.0% with the Celtics. Theis has been a solid reserve big man throughout his career, averaging 8.2 points and 4.9 rebounds with the Rockets and Celtics last season.

Morgan has played 52 games with three times over three seasons, and Fitts has played 18 games with three teams over the past two seasons. Stauskas is a Pacer for the second time, though he didn't appear in a game after he was traded to Indiana in a salary dump by Houston in 2019.

July 6 is the earliest trades and free agent signings can become official. The NBA's moratorium began Thursday evening, allowing contracts to be agreed on in principle. Players and teams can still change their minds and call off deals during this period.

Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: jboyd1@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers trade Malcolm Brogdon to Celtics for 2023 1st-round pick, others