Malcolm Brogdon didn’t want to leave Milwaukee.
The former Rookie of the Year spent his first three seasons in the league with the Bucks, and had hoped to stay for a fourth, if not longer.
Instead, Brogdon was sent to Indiana in a trade, and made his first return to Fiserv Forum on Sunday for the Pacers’ 117-89 loss to the Bucks. While it seems that there were no hard feelings in Milwaukee — the team even played a video tribute for him in the first quarter — Brogdon did reflect on the end of his time there, something he said he started to see coming in the final moments.
"I had a pretty good inkling that things may not work out and things may not go in the direction that I thought they were going to go in, so I started to change my mindset and started to identify different teams and prepare myself,” Brogdon said, via ESPN.
“I would've loved to play for this team, if they had wanted me. If they had valued me the way the Pacers value me. That's all I gotta say."
Brogdon was selected by the Bucks in the second round of the 2016 draft, and earned Rookie of the Year honors that season while posting 10.2 points and 4.2 assists mostly off the bench. He averaged 15.6 points last season as a starter in Milwaukee.
Once becoming a restricted free agent this past summer, Brogdon eventually inked a four-year, $85 million deal with the Pacers in exchange for a pair of future draft picks.
“[I] definitely wish he was still here,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds in the win, via ESPN. “One of my friends, one of the guys that I always teased every day when I see him, call him ugly, we’re just going back and forth. I’m going to miss that, but at the end of the day, you got to do what’s best for you.”
Though the feeling is mutual, Brogdon is off to an impressive start with Indiana.
The Pacers have started the season with a 20-10 record, right in the mix with nearly every other top team in the Eastern Conference. He’s averaged a career-high 18.7 points, 7.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game, too, and put up 10 points and 10 assists on Sunday.
While he was a key piece for the Bucks, there was a lot of talent on that roster. Now in Indiana, Brogdon can pave his own path without being trapped in Antetokounmpo or anyone else’s shadow — something he’s really enjoying.
“Sort of being a leader of a team now is a totally different role,” Brogdon said, via ESPN. “It’s a way bigger role for me, but it’s something I’ve been molded into and something I’ve prepared myself to do over the past three years.
“This is, I think, something every respected NBA player wants. They want a team that they can call theirs. They want a team that they can still win at a high level, but they have the ball more in their hands and they can control more of the game.”
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