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.