Shams Charania of RealGM had first reported details on the contract, which includes a player option for the third season. The deal could not become official until July 9, the end of the NBA's moratorium on transactions. Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star confirmed the report.
The Pacers eventually confirmed the deal on July 21.
Stuckey, 29, played in Indiana last season under a veteran's minimum contract, which was tied as much to his desire for extended playing time as it was to improving his image around the league. He averaged 12.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, splitting his time between the starting lineup and a sixth-man role.
"I think it’s important for us to get him back here," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said of Stuckey at his season-ending interview. "We need guys like Rodney. He was a major plus for our franchise."
In a vacuum, Stuckey's deal should not raise any eyebrows. The cost of doing business in the NBA is going up—way up—and he is a fine rotation player who knows how to fill a certain role. In the new NBA economy, there is no issue paying $7 million for a volume-scoring bench guard.
Paying $18 million per year for two players with that general skill set is a bit dicier. The Pacers had already agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with Monta Ellis, per ESPN's Chris Broussard and Marc Stein. Ellis will likely start for Indiana, but putting him on the same roster as Stuckey is interesting, to say the least.
Both players are undersized, score-first combo guards who defend at a below-average level. Stuckey (6'5", 205 lbs) is a more consistent defender than Ellis (6'3", 185 lbs), but opposing players shot slightly better than their average when defended by Stuckey last season. At best, he tops out as an average defender whose offensive skill set is redundant and inferior to Ellis'.
Brian Geltzeiler of Hoops Critic commented on the logjam:
The Pacers' roster construction—George Hill and C.J. Miles are the only other guards currently signed—means Stuckey and Ellis will have to spend time on the floor together. That could be a defensive disaster for a team that just two years ago was built around perhaps the best defensive starting five in the NBA. Depending on how their contracts are structured, Stuckey and Ellis will account for about 20 percent of Indiana's cap, even after the massive spikes in 2016 and 2017, per Basketball Numbers.
With the Pacers also drafting Joseph Young in the second round, another score-first combo guard, it's clear Bird had a vision about the type of player he wanted to acquire this offseason. It's fair to wonder if he splurged a little too much at that spot.
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