Bruce Brown is still in the Nuggets group text and looks forward to getting his championship ring in January
Brown was part of the Nuggets' 2023 NBA title. But as his former teammates received their rings Tuesday night, he watched from his home in Indy.
When the Pacers introduced Bruce Brown as a free-agent singing in early July, they had a backdrop that matched his substantial increase in salary. Brown, a 2018 second-round pick, went from making $6.6 million per season in Denver to $22 million — the highest number on the Pacers this season.
As free agency opened, he took two meetings. The New York Knicks and the Pacers. To complete the deal, the Pacers had the salary cap cushion to pay a championship tax: a deal worth up to $45 million, including a team option in Year 2.
A week later, at center court of Gainbridge Fieldhouse, they lowered the giant video board, set up a table and chairs on risers and talked about his positive influence, his defense and production in transition that should fit in well.
“This is a huge free-agent signing for the Pacers organization,” head coach Rick Carlisle said then.
“The thing I love about him, the number one thing as a team that needs to get better defensively, is that every night we know we’re gonna have a guy that we know we can put on the best perimeter player. He’s gonna take the challenge and he’s gonna love the challenge.”
Brown, 27, then joined the team in Las Vegas for summer league. He helped Tyrese Haliburton host a mini-camp for the players in Nashville a week before training camp. He’s addressed the team as a group and shared keys to having a successful organization and winning; that’s part of the appeal in signing him.
He preached accountability, taking care of the little things and doing it together. “One thing we always said was we play as a team, we win as a team, everybody will eat,” he said.
The NBA tipped off another season Tuesday night in Denver and Brown was away from his former teammates. He was in Indiana preparing for their opener, but watched intently on ring night — the final celebration for what a team accomplished the previous season.
“I actually just texted the guys,” Brown said after Tuesday’s practice, hours before the jewelry was distributed. “I’m going to be watching. I’m going to be cheering them on because those are my guys. I can’t wait to see what the ring looks like because I haven’t seen it.”