Pacers to Sign Kyrylo Fesenko

When Jeff Foster retired out of the blue yesterday, it left a big hole in the Pacers lineup. Well, it looks like Larry Bird decidedly to take his job of filling that massive void literally. Because, according to SI’s Sam Amick, Indiana’s GM is about to finalize a deal with Kyryo Fesenko, the 7’1″, 280-pound, space-eating (perhaps literally also) center from Ukraine with an size 18 shoe who played four ineffective, yet memorable seasons for the Utah Jazz.

ESPN NBA reporter Mark Stein explains what Fesenko has been up to since then.

The Golden State Warriors and Fesenko mutually canceled their plans in December to finalize a one-year deal worth just under $1.1 million, partly because Fesenko needed additional time to get into game shape after September knee surgery.

Fesenko was also courted heavily by the Dallas Mavericks in December but remained unsigned until this week, when he received strong interest from Boston and Indiana.

Amick also noted that the Pacers likely won out over Boston because their cap situation and ability to pay “significantly above veteran’s minimum salary” to retain Fesenko for the rest of the season. Expect to see the Pacers announce the signing tomorrow.

Considering the market, it’s hard to think of any better options the team could have found to replace Foster. It remains to be seen how much Kyrylo will play but the team now has more versatility given that there wasn’t another backup center on the roster until now. Lou Amundson has done a fine job as a reserve all year, but any unit with him and Tyler Hansbrough in the middle is fairly small, if not finesse.

Fesenko is a bruising big in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, he has never averaged more than 9 minutes per game. He can block some shots, grab a few boards and even put in a bucket or two here and there, but I wouldn’t expect great things.


Tags: Kyrylo Fesenko Lou Amundson

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  • other mike


  • Ian

    I think a little more insight into this signing is in order. From Hollinger’s writeup on ESPN:

    The best-kept secret in the NBA right now is Fesenko’s monstrous defensive stats. It’s not that one or two metrics point out his defensive value; it’s that all of them do, without any pointing to the contrary.

    Last season the Jazz were an eye-popping 11.91 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Fesenko on the floor, and this is not a new trend. The season before it was 8.67; in limited minutes his first two seasons he also had a strong differential.

    Synergy Stats, meanwhile, rated Fesenko as the second-best defender in the entire league among players who faced at least 150 opponent plays; the season before he was first. And according to, opposing centers had a PER of just 10.4 against him; the season before it was 12.9.

    Despite his size, Fesenko doesn’t block a ton of shots or dominate the boards. He just uglies up the game for opponents with his sheer hugeness, especially since he moves his feet fairly well for his size. And he can still get better — he wasn’t always fully engaged in Utah and needs to step up his commitment.


    So in summary, the dude doesn’t have much skill, but he is so disruptive on defense that as a member of the second unit, he can help make things miserable for the other team. Hopefully he’s in decent enough shape to play.

  • Sam

    All I have to say is 7’1 280…..can’t really go wrong even if all he does is foul and take up space

  • Mike

    Dude is a career 38% shooter from the line. How is that even possible?

  • agreed

    i am hoping for a NIKOLA PEKOVIC part II
    wouldnt that be awesome?

  • Donald

    Some one needs to tell some one else that it’s not about average height. Adding another 7 footer doesn’t make Darren Collison 2 inches taller.

    Jokes aside kid doesn’t sound like a locker room problem, doesn’t sound like a premadona, doesn’t sound like he cost too much. We gave up nothing to get him. We could still make a roster move if one presented itself.

    One undervalued trait Jeff had was as a heel, he was the ‘villian’ of last year’s bulls series. If a 7’1″ 280 pound guy can come in and mix it up for us all the better.