After being recalled for guard depth in the wake of Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury, the Indiana Pacers have signed two-way player Edmond Sumner to a two-year contract, the team announced Monday.
Sumner, who averaged 23.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals while shooting 40 percent from three in 17 games with the Mad Ants, struggled to see the floor outside of garbage time when Oladipo missed significant time earlier in the season, logging just eight minutes of action across the entirety of the 11-game stretch.
This go-around, with Tyreke Evans (back soreness) and Doug McDermott (rib ) also missing time due to injuries, the Xavier product has played no fewer than 10 minutes in each of the team’s last eight games.
From being thrust into the starting lineup against the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards to filling holes in the rotation at three separate positions in various makeshift lineups, the 6-foot-6 athletic guard’s acclimatization to the NBA has been baptism by fire.
Pressed into service while drawing defensive assignments against the likes of Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal, he’s shown promise (forcing turnovers, pestering the point of attack, and slipping split cuts) along with nerves (reverting sometimes to out-of-control finishes when lightly contested) and inexperience (picking up four fouls in the first half against the Wizards).
Thus far, without much opportunity to settle-in at the midpoint of the season, the 22-year-old’s suspect decision-making has carried over from the Mad Ants more than his improved 3-point accuracy or off-the-dribble skills.
Over the last eight games, he’s shot 3-of-15 on wide open threes (closest defender 6+ feet away) while recording nearly as many turnovers (4) as assists (6).
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the second-year of Sumner’s deal is a team option.
The rest of the contract details aren’t clear. When the Pacers promoted two-way player Alex Poythress last season, the forward’s new deal was guaranteed for $778,000, and it became fully guaranteed at $1.54 million for 2018-19 if he wasn’t waived by July 25, which he was.
With Wesley Matthews now in tow and expected to nab the starting job at two-guard, Sumner will likely reprise his role as the sixth guard off the bench.
“We’re trying to win basketball games,” Nate McMillan responded, when asked about the impact that adding Matthews would have on the playing time of Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner.
For now, Sumner fills the final spot on the standard 15-man roster with his foot in the door while he waits his turn and tries to stay healthy after being sidelined by a hamstring injury back in December.
The Pacers can also still assign him to Fort Wayne, though his new contract ends his two-way designation with the Mad Ants.
However, if the 22-year-old athlete can continue to refine his skills and cutback on the turnovers, his physical attributes as a slasher and lanky defender could turn out to be a bargain replacement off the bench in 2019-20, pending free agency decisions from Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans, and Wesley Matthews.
January 15th was the deadline to sign players to two-way contracts, so the team’s 17th roster spot will remain open for the remainder of the season.