|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
Restricted free agent Chris Copeland of the New York Knicks signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers on Friday, his agent, John Spencer, confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.
The offer is for two years, $6.12 million guaranteed -- $3 million in 2013-14 and $3.12 million the following season. A team option was discussed for a third season, but both sides agreed against it.
The overall financials mean the Knicks will not be able to match because they only have about $1.7 million available for a 2013-14 salary -- a slice of their $3.18 million mini mid-level exception. The other portion went to Pablo Prigioni.
The Knicks didn't make an offer to Copeland, instead waiting on him to test the open market. The 29-year-old forward, who wrapped up his rookie season in New York, initially was interested in returning. He even expressed to ESPNNewYork.com that it was a tough decision to sign the offer sheet, tipping his hat to the Knicks organization and especially its fans.
"They had my back," he said.
Spencer also discussed the positives from Copeland's New York experience, while sharing why the Pacers were a strong fit for his client.
"Chris is grateful to the Knicks for giving him his first opportunity to play in the NBA," Spencer said. "Also, the Knicks veterans showed him how to be a pro. They taught him to always be prepared. So it was hard for him to leave. But at the end of the day, the opportunity to play for a championship-caliber team was important for him, and he looks forward to working with another world-class organization.
"I think Chris fits in Indiana because they have right now two, maybe three All-Star caliber guys in Roy Hibbert, Paul George and David West. And Chris will be that guy that can fill three different positions. He can even play the 5 position -- he did in college -- and he can get to the basket off the dribble. There are a lot of wide-ranging places on the court for him, and it's a great system for Chris because of the way they play situational basketball. Chris and C.J. Watson [who agreed to sign with Indiana earlier in the week] are two guys very important to a championship run."
The Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz were all in pursuit of Copeland.
After Copeland signed the Pacers' offer sheet, the team sent him a package with Pacers hats, iPads with welcome videos and a customized ESPN The Magazine cover with himself on it wearing a No. 14 Pacers uniform and the words "The Future of Pacers Basketball."
The Pacers made a compelling offer that also gives Copeland an opportunity to be a consistent part of the rotation next season. The Pacers needed a versatile stretch 4 for more wing scoring and 3-point shooting, especially with their interior game established and opponents' double teams that arise frequently.
By bringing on Copeland, the Pacers now have 14 players under contract, leaving room for one more.