This off-season, Larry Bird has truly worked to ensure he's putting the best Indiana Pacers roster on the floor.
The Pacers' team President made shrewd draft week deals to acquire Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, to help retool the roster on the fly with the hopes of competing in the Eastern Conference for the next several years. On Monday, Bird seemingly concluded his off-season team shaping with the signing of veteran point guard Aaron Brooks, who signed a one-year contract with the Pacers valued at $2.5 million.
It is apparent that Bird envisions Brooks being the second string point guard for the time being. Brooks will relieve Teague and run the second unit, a role he has been comfortable with in previous stints, with several teams, most recently with the Chicago Bulls. While his defense has always been questionable, what Brooks primarily brings to the Pacers' table is shooting; his career 37.0% from three-point range would have ranked third on the Pacers last season behind George Hill and Paul George.
The biggest question surrounding this signing is: What does this mean for second-year point guard Joe Young?
Over the second half of last season, the Oregon Duck product started to get significantly more playing time as the backup to George Hill. Young showed flashes of being a truly multi-faceted offensive player, particularly in his career-best game against Golden State where he scored 16 points and handed out 8 assists. The rookie wall came quickly for Young, however, as his minutes vanished almost as quickly as they surfaced. By the time the postseason rolled around, Young was relegated to garbage-time duty and bench mob leading.
More work needs to be put in, but it's clear that Young possesses the talent and drive. But should fans be worried that Brooks' signing will hinder Young's development, in a crucial second year?
It's important not to view the Brooks signing as a solution, but rather the duct tape on the proverbial hole in the wall that is the Pacers' point guard depth before the Plaster of Paris that is Joe Young, is ready to step in.
Brooks fits the mold of what Bird has been doing this entire off-season: get established talent that can compliment Paul George while the youngsters continue to work their way into the rotation. The true value of this signing isn't with the fit of Brooks' style of play, but in the value of his contract. $2.5 million for a backup point guard in the current salary cap landscape is mind-numbingly low. If Brooks is able to solidify the backup spot, then he will be a constant contributor for the second unit. After the season he can be let go with no additional penalty to Indiana. If not, the Pacers will likely split his minutes with Young until Young is comfortable enough to lead the bench on his own. He already possesses the tenacity, and it's only a matter of time before he takes the reins for good.