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Pacers sign T.J. McConnell to two-year deal

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The Pacers have cornered the market on T.J.’s.

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers have reached agreement with free agent point guard T.J. McConnell on a two-year, $7 million contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski.

McConnell, who averaged 6.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 33 percent from three for the Sixers last season, will likely either play alongside Aaron Holiday off the bench or provide depth behind him.

If they play together, McConnell isn’t a threat to shoot from deep off-the-dribble (0-of-7 for the season), and he isn’t particularly effective without the ball in his hands. Of players averaging at least 19 minutes per game, only Ben Simmons (0.1) attempted fewer threes per game among guards last season. Truth be told, 37 centers attempted more threes on average than McConnell (0.6), which means his defender will be likely to stray into the driving space of Holiday, or any other guard with which he plays next season.

With the ball, the 6-foot-2 probing guard keeps the offense moving, and he knocked down pull-up twos at a near-50 percent clip last season; but, the more he has the ball in his hands, means the less Aaron Holiday will. Indiana’s 23rd overall selection in the 2018 draft is capable of playing off-ball (shooting 38.5 percent on catch-and-shoot threes), but his smaller stature suggests that he tracks better as a point guard, and he needs reps to develop his playmaking skills.

Defensively, McConnell is cut from similar cloth as Cory Joseph. He’s pesky at the point of attack, and he gives consistent effort. Unlike Joseph, however, he has a tendency to get outmatched by bigger guards, and, therefore, gets routinely targeted, something which might be less of an issue with the Pacers given the team’s lack of appetite for switching.

Per Synergy, although both high-motor guards played with elite-level rim protectors backing them up, McConnell surrendered a leaky 1.045 points per possession on isolations, a significant drop-off from Joseph (0.647) on similar volume. As such, if he were to be used in bench units with Holiday, size could end up being somewhat of an issue on top of sharing point guard duties.

By all accounts, McConnell is a terrific teammate, and it might turn out to be that he was signed only with the intention of providing emergency depth. Still, even with that said, it’s difficult to see what he will provide when pressed into service that Edmond Sumner wouldn’t be able to offer up in a similar role, minus (maybe) a steady hand and experience.

Per Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights, the Pacers are down to $2.13 million in usable cap space, unless they used most of the room exception to sign McConnell, which would push them back up to $5.55 million.