On Friday evening, the Indiana Pacers signed former New York Knick and 3-point shooting specialist Chris Copeland. The signing makes sense for the Pacers and their bench scoring, considering Copeland shot 48% from the field and 42% from three in the regular season, then improving his 3-point number to 48% in the playoffs (11-23 total). He averaged 8.7 points per game in the regular season, and his Per 36 numbers in the regular season were also impressive (20.3 points, 5 rebounds). He can be a 3 or a 4 off the bench, and just might be the scoring punch off the bench the Pacers have been so desperately needing to make a push for a title. Considering Indiana got him for $3 million a year for two years, it's also relatively low-risk. The front office looked to have gotten this one right. But there's one problem..
Chris Copeland hates the Indiana Pacers, and he isn't afraid to say it.
Copeland played for the Pacers arch-rival Knicks last season, a rivalry that dates back to the days of Reggie Miller and Patrick Ewing, but gained a little bit of extra intensity this season because the two teams squared off in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. The Pacers prevailed in 6 games, and went on to the Eastern Conference Finals. No one on the Knicks was happy about it, who would be happy to lose to a rival in the playoffs?
Copeland would move on to free agency, where the Pacers gave him a larger offer than any other team; 2 years, $6 million, apparently an offer Copeland couldn't refuse, especially after a customized recruiting package was sent to Copeland, including two hats, a magazine, and a poster of Copeland in a Pacers jersey.
Seriously, Chris was close to going back to New York for whatever amount," Copeland's agent, John Spencer, told the New York Post, "He let the emotional side go and made the right business decision for him."
"[Copeland] said to Coach Vogel, 'I hate you. You guys beat us,'" Spencer said, "He was joking a little, but not really."
The Pacers got a player that is a good talent, and had a good season last year. He'll help Indiana's bench and is a great addition, from a basketball standpoint. For the locker room however, I don't know how well it'll go over, especially since locker room favorite and spark plug Jeff Pendergrpah just signed with the San Antonio Spurs.
Let's just hope David West can whip this guy into shape.
If you want to see Copeland's basketball skills, here's a video of some of his highlights from last season (including a lot of plays against Indiana):
Chris Copeland - Knickstape 2013 (via TheYoungHerb)