'He's our leader': Malcolm Brogdon signs extension, readies for a new level of responsibility

"I think Malcolm is a guy with values. I think he wants to be here, he wants to be part of this franchise and I’m happy it’s long-term."

The Pacers front office negotiated with Malcolm Brogdon’s agent Austin Brown of CAA for the past few weeks. He had two more years under contract, but the Pacers’ leading scorer last season was up for an extension, which benefits both sides.

For the Pacers, it’s re-signing one of their own, a player they dealt several future draft picks to the Bucks in order to acquire via sign-and-trade, and a player they are all-in on — in terms of both leadership and on-court production.

For Brogdon, it’s another $45 million in guaranteed money. That’s huge for a player who has missed roughly 20% of each season due to injury. He saw several teammates sign an extension in Milwaukee, but they chose to move on from him. So for Brogdon and the Pacers front office, it’s following through on a commitment and wanting to see more.

“Malcolm has established himself as a very important part of our organization, not only with his performance on the court but also by the character he displays beyond it,” Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said in a statement.

Nobody enjoyed last season. They quickly want to move past that. To do so, head coach Rick Carlisle has helped the team turn the page by focusing on togetherness and defense.

Sounds familiar, right? That’s what carried them to the conference finals in 2013 and 2014. They haven’t won a playoff series since.

Before the Pacers opened the 2021-22 season in Charlotte, their first game in a brutal stretch with 12 of their first 19 games on the road, Brogdon was sure a deal would get done. Deadline day was Monday, and that’s when he put ink to paper at the team facility.

“It was a big priority of mine, I think it was a big priority of theirs,” he said after Tuesday’s practice before departing for Charlotte. “I’m not a guy that’s asking for the max, I want a fair deal. And I really don’t want to be thinking about this during the season. So for me, it was getting it out of the way so I could really focus on my team and focus on getting this thing off to a good start.”

His two-year contract grew to four years, $89.3 million. It is fully guaranteed, per league sources. Brogdon, 28, remains the highest-paid player on the Pacers.

“Malcolm Brogdon is a special player and a special person, and he’s our leader,” Carlisle said.

“And one of the reasons I feel so great about this extension is that he really wants to be here. He wants to be in a position of high responsibility and leadership. He’s stepped those things up to a very high level. It’s a lot of work. It’s like a relationship, you constantly need to work on it and he’s in this for the long haul.”

That’s really important, especially in Indiana.

He really wants to be here.

This isn’t Los Angeles, it’s not Miami. Players come and go. You want to keep the best ones and Brogdon, when healthy, has been a steady force who makes a point to get everybody involved. That’s part of a point guard’s job.

“I just got to be the guy that influences people to play the right way,” he said.

It wasn’t just Carlisle, who’s on his fourth month on the job, noting how Brogdon has made Indy home. Brogdon said it himself.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Pacers, to the front office to my teammates that helped me get there, to the previous coaches that I’ve had with the Pacers,” he said. “I’m excited to continue to my career with Carlisle. I want to be here. We’re gonna really get this thing back on track this year and we’re gonna build something special.”

That’s the message Brogdon has repeated often in camp. The need to start from scratch, to create a culture and he’s fully committed on leading the way by voice, but mostly by actions.

And extends to off the court, where he has his own foundation — which focuses on education and providing clean water to nations that need it.

“(The extension) gives everything I’m doing light,” said Brogdon, the recipient of the 2020 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. “That’s what I’m most excited about, I’m able to put more time and resources to things that really matter to me.”

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