Signaling the team’s commitment to the lanky wing’s fit within the plans of their suddenly more youthful roster, the Indiana Pacers have reached agreement with Edmond Sumner on a three-year deal after declining his team option late last week, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sumner, whose two-way contract was converted to a standard deal in the wake of Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury when the team was forced to run through his 45 days of NBA eligibility, averaged 22.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 26 games with Mad Ants and impressed with his ball-hawking defense when pressed into action against the likes of Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal in two starts for the Pacers.
“I think he can defend at an NBA-level right now,” Nate McMillan said of the 6-foot-6 guard at the team’s end-of-season presser.
Less certain is the raw ball of energy’s contributions on the offensive end of the floor. After making just two of his first 15 tries from three, Sumner confidently knocked down five of his last twelve (a welcome turnaround). However, over 90 percent of his three-point attempts were categorized as wide-open, which no doubt contributed to him shooting below 40 percent in the restricted area (down from 64 percent with the Mad Ants).
Being able to consistently tap into the improved accuracy he demonstrated from deep with Fort Wayne (35.8 percent on 5.8 attempts per game), particularly in transition or when opponents go under screens, would make penetrating the lane all the more easy for a player who already appears as though he’s been shot out of a cannon when he attacks the paint. And it just might serve to tame some of his wild finishes by thinning out some of the crowds that await him at the rim, too.
Sumner’s path to demonstrating proof of progress over the full course of the season is somewhat murky, though – especially given that the team is planning to play big after drafting Goga Bitadze. With Domantas Sabonis expected to play “a lot of four,” Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren will most likely slot in at the wings until Victor Oladipo is back in action. At that point, once the two-time All-Star returns and shifts one or the other of them to the second unit, Doug McDermott (who is set to earn $7.3 million next season) would be at risk of being out of the rotation unless the bench up-sizes with him at the two, which also just so happens to be the spot at which Sumner would be most likely to compete for minutes.
As such, the 23-year-old’s best chance to earn his spot in the rotation will be at the beginning of the season while Oladipo is still on the shelf. Otherwise, he’ll be available to provide injury relief at both guard positions as well as the three.
Still, if he continues to show promise and can cut back on the turnovers, his physical attributes along with his familiarity within the team’s system are an investment well made, even if they don’t yield returns in the immediate.
The Pacers still have to address Alize Johnson’s $1.4 million non-guaranteed contract by July 15. Sumner, Johnson, and the rest of the team’s Summer League roster will take to the floor in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies.