Pacers Re-Sign Rose and Croshere

Thursday, August 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jalen Rose and Austin Croshere will be very rich Indiana Pacers for seven more years.

``It's a very surreal moment,'' Croshere said. ``I don't think it's sunk in. Throughout the negotiations, hearing the numbers thrown out, it's kind of like Monopoly money at that point.''

It's a lot more than he got the first time he signed with the Indiana Pacers, that's for sure.

A first-round draft pick whose three-year rookie contract in 1997 was for $4 million, Croshere re-signed Wednesday for a reported $51 million for seven years. A strong performance in the NBA Finals, in which he averaged 15.2 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, boosted his stock as a free agent.

``Watching Austin play, everyone was impressed with the intensity he brought night in and night out,'' coach Isiah Thomas said. ``His athleticism speaks for itself.''

Rose, named the NBA's most improved player after displacing Reggie Miller as the team's leading scorer, also signed a new contract on Wednesday, a seven-year deal worth $93 million, according to his agent, David Falk.

Unlike Croshere, who visited several other teams to test his value as a free agent, Rose did not consider any other offers.

``My head and heart the entire time was to be an Indiana Pacer,'' he said. ``I said from the beginning that I was going to continue to remain an Indiana Pacer and try to do what I could to help this team and city win a championship.''

The 6-foot-8 Rose, who moved into the Pacers' starting lineup at small forward, averaged 18.2 points in the regular season and 20.8 in the playoffs. He had a career-high 40 points against Philadelphia.

Rose did not attend the news conference at Conseco Fieldhouse Wednesday night — he had to catch a plane — but said in a statement the recent hiring of Thomas to replace Larry Bird helped his decision to stay.

``The coach is a big part of any team,'' said Rose, who grew up watching Thomas play for his hometown Detroit Pistons. ``He is the guy who dictates playing time. He is the guy who dictates the style of play.

``Any time you replace a guy like Larry Bird and you replace him with a Hall of Famer, like we did, it made the opportunity to remain a Pacer a lot more attractive.''

Sam Perkins re-signed Tuesday for one year at about $2.5 million, and the Pacers expect to re-sign at least two of their three other free agents — Miller, Mark Jackson and Rik Smits. Contract talks with Smits have been delayed while he decides whether he wants to retire.

The 6-9 Croshere averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 81 games last season, when the Pacers reached the NBA Finals for the first time. He had a career-high 24 points in Game 2 of the finals against the Lakers.

Miller, who will be starting his 14th year in the NBA, earned more than $9 million last season and reportedly wants a three- or four-year deal that would keep him with the Pacers the rest of his career.

Jackson, also a 13-year veteran, is likely to get a raise over his $4 million salary, but the length of his contract is under discussion. Smits made $12 million last season, his 12th with the Pacers.