For the best NBA free agents, the Indiana Pacers aren't exactly a top free agency destination. However, the Pacers did sign Bruce Brown this offseason. Brown was a vital player for the Denver Nuggets, the 2023 NBA Champions, this previous season.
Although Brown is not a star, his arrival in Indiana will undoubtedly help this team advance in the Eastern Conference, particularly in light of the Pacers' recent signing of Tyrese Haliburton to a maximum contract extension, which locked up their franchise player for the future.
It's not always the case that Indiana signs the top free agents. The team has signed underappreciated players like Brown throughout the years, who can offer their established stars the much-needed backup they require. Having said that, let's delve into the past and examine the top five free-agent acquisitions made by the Indiana Pacers.
5. C.J. Miles
Another one of those underappreciated acquisitions who flourished as a Pacer is C.J. Miles. In addition to being the epitome of a role player, Miles was an expert at one thing: three-point shooting. In the summer of 2014, the 27-year-old veteran with nine years of NBA experience made his way to Indiana as a left-handed shooter.
Within his first season with the Pacers, Miles made 70 appearances (40 starts) and scored a career-high 13.5 points. Paul George missed most of the season because of the infamous broken leg he sustained while playing for Team USA in the run-up to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, making him the second-leading scorer behind George Hill.
For the next two seasons, Miles continued to be an important reserve player for Indiana, averaging double figures. He shot a career-high 41.6 per cent from beyond the arc in the 2016–17 season, the only one in which he had ever shot more than 40 per cent from three. It turned out that Miles's years with the Pacers were the most productive of his career according to our NBA Expert Picks. He shot 41.2 percent for field goals and 37.4 percent for three-pointers in 210 games, yielding an average of 12.0 points.
4. Malcolm Brogdon
Malcolm Brogdon is a player who relocated to Indiana and spent his most fruitful years there. He is another reliable role player for a struggling team. Okay, thus far. Brogdon joined the Indianapolis Colts as a well-respected member of a team that was vying for a title. He took over as the starting point guard for the Pacers right away, who were still very much in the running for the Eastern Conference title. With regular-season averages of 16.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and a career-high 7.1 assists, Brogdon assisted Indiana in making the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Subsequently, he improved even more, becoming the Pacers' top scorer the following season with an average of 21.2 points per game on 45.3 per cent shooting and 38.8 per cent three-point shooting. Indiana, regrettably, did not make it to the postseason that year.
But Brogdon's incapacity to remain on the floor was his biggest worry. In the two campaigns stated above, he played just 110 games. In the 2021–22 season, which turned out to be his final one in Indianapolis, he played just 36 games.
Nevertheless, when Brogdon signed with Indiana, he was still a somewhat significant free agent. Though he may not be as well-known as some of the other players on our list, the 2016–17 NBA Rookie of the Year is still a valuable player who can help teams win games.
3. Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown may appear too young to be ranked this high on the list. However, given the current direction the Pacers are going, Brown may turn out to be one of the team's smartest additions. Tyrese Haliburton at the forefront and Rick Carlisle at the sidelines appear to have Indiana ready to jump into the postseason. Brown is the ideal complimentary player to add effort and intensity to this Pacers team that needs it.
When Brown joined the Denver Nuggets, who won the title in 2023, he carried those two qualities with him. The 6-foot-4 wing shot 48.3 per cent from the field and averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists during the regular season. During the postseason, the 27-year-old showed similar consistency and increased efficiency, averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 51.1 per cent from the field.
With Brown expected to start for Rick Carlisle's team, he appears ready for a breakout season. This upcoming 2023–24 season should see him average career bests in a number of statistical categories.
2. Bojan Bogdanovic
Bojan Bogdanovic was a good role player for the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards during his first four years of professional basketball before joining the Indiana Pacers and developing into one of the league's most consistent stretch-four scorers. The Wizards handed up Bogdanovic's free agency rights, and the Pacers acquired him in the 2017 summer for a two-year, $21 million contract.
Bogdanovic's first season with the Pacers saw him average a then-career-high 14.3 points per game. However, it didn't take him long to surpass that, as in 81 starts, he averaged a career-high 18.0 points per game. He also had the most effective shooting seasons of his career, finishing at 49.7 per cent from the field and 42.5 per cent from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-7 forward spent just a few seasons playing for the Pacers, but it was in Indiana that he made a name for himself as an effective and reliable NBA scorer.
1. David West
Without a question, David West is the best player the Indiana Pacers have ever signed. He is the lone All-Star player on this list, in actuality. As a player for the New Orleans Hornets in the past, West established himself as an All-Star big man and a nightly 20-point scorer. Thus, it was definitely a significant deal that Indiana got him.
The big forward played the entire 66-game schedule with averages of 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds, however, his output declined in his first season with the Pacers due to the 2011–12 lockout. In the postseason, he did see an increase in his stats, averaging 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. During the playoffs, he gave a team led by young, promising player Paul George some much-needed experienced toughness. One of the best rivalries of that decade began when Indiana faced LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat in a demanding six-game second-round series.
West's regular season stats increased to 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds the next year. The Pacers concluded as the fourth seed in the East after winning 49 games. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals when they nearly defeated the Miami Heat, the reigning NBA champions. With his tenacity and physicality in the paint, West was once again a major factor in that series, making the Pacers vs. Heat game an exciting basketball contest. West averaged 16.6 points and 8.9 rebounds in that taxing series. Regretfully, in Game 7, Indiana could not hold off Miami's Big Three.
Even though West played for two more seasons in Indianapolis, his output steadily declined. Despite not winning a title, the Pacers under coach Paul George were entertaining to watch because of their on-court teamwork and aggressiveness.