Weren´t we just talking about the Pacers´ inability to find international players of note? Well, it seems Larry Bird has been reading 8p9s, because he just signed 6’10″ Croatian Forward Damjan Rudež to a three-year deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The salary is as yet unknown, but the Pacers will be using a portion of the mid-level exception to sign Rudež, says Wojnarowski.
I don´t do a lot of international scouting, so I can´t offer much analysis on the guy. There is a YouTube clip above, and here is a little more on the guy, per Yahoo:
Rudez, who is 6-foot-10, plays the coveted NBA stretch-four position.
Rudez’s production for Zaragoza of the Spanish ACB has helped develop a growing level of value for him in the NBA. He shot 44 percent on three-pointers in the ACB season and 52 percent (28-for-54) in the 16-game Euro Cup.
A native of Croatia, Rudez went undrafted in the 2008 NBA draft, which makes him eligible to sign a free-agent deal.
Frank Vogel has never used a stretch four for extended minutes. We also know that, last season, Vogel never could be bothered to use Chris Copeland — the shooter Bird got for him last offseason.
Clearly, the Pacers´ offense is trash, so perhaps this is Bird´s way of doubling down on his message to the coach that the team must put more offensive talent on the court.
In more important news, this obviously makes the reports that Bird has a fixed price for re-signing Lance Stephenson sound even truer. It´s likely that the annual salary given to Rudež will be low, and perhaps the three-year guarantee helped keep it low.
But it is clear that the team isn´t simply waiting around for Lance to make up his mind. This, in addition to reports about the team looking to use more of its mid-level exception money on C.J. Miles, shows that the team has alloted a certain sum for re-signing Stephenson and another sum for other improvements.