Pacers retool bench with 3 free agent signings

Damjan Rudez
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The Pacers believe they have added needed offense to their bench with three free agent signings made official on Friday. The team introduced guard/forward C.J. Miles, forward Damjan Rudez and forward/center Lavoy Allen at an informal media gathering.

“C.J. and Damjan enhance what we can do from the three point line and our ability to space the floor and help us be a better ball moving team,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. “Both those guys are big time shooters. Lavoy proved in the limited opportunities we gave him last year that he can give us really quality play as a backup center or power forward. This isn’t a big overhaul of the bench like last year. This is just adding some depth to our team.”

Miles (6-6, 210 lbs.) signed a reported four year deal worth $18 million. Miles enters his 10th season in the NBA. He played the last two seasons in Cleveland. He averaged 10 points and two rebounds per game last season. Miles has made his reputation as a shooter, knocking down 39% of his three point attempts last season.

“That’s what got me here,” said Miles. “That’s what has kept me here. I’m a big believer in honing your craft. I come in every day and try to work on that. I know what I’m supposed to do and what they expect me to do and that’s what I’m going to do.”

His full name is Calvin Andre Miles, Jr. C.J. stands for Calvin Junior. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 34th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft and spent his first seven seasons in Utah.

“We’re very glad to have C.J. and he really wanted to be here,” said Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird in a team statement. “He brings versatility to the small forward and shooting guard positions. He’s a great shooter and scorer. We think he’ll fit nicely with the culture of our team.”

Miles says his top reason for joining the Pacers is the opportunity to compete for a championship.

“I like to win,” said Miles. “That’s the direction of the organization. They’re a group of hard workers, which I think I fit in to. The fan base here is great. The support here is great. Winning is the biggest thing for me. Just come in and help a winning team win more. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”

Miles grew up in Dallas, Texas. He has known Pacers point guard Donald Sloan since middle school and the two played on AAU teams together and were also teammates in Cleveland.

The Pacers ranked 22nd in the NBA last season with 6.7 three-pointers made per game. They shot 35.7% from behind the arch, 17th in the league. Both Miles and Rudez should help improve those numbers.

The 28-year-old Rudez (6-10, 200 lbs.) has already played 10 years professionally in Europe and plays for the Croatian National Team. Rudez plays the “stretch four” position which the Pacers had so much trouble defending last season. He played the last two seasons with CAI Zaragoza in Spain in the Liga ACB. He shot 44 percent from three-point range last season.

“I’m primarily a shooter,” said Rudez, who speaks English fluently. “I was raised to cover both wing positions, the three and four. I think I’m versatile. I covered both positions in Spain on a high level, so that is something I hope transcends to the NBA.”

Watch Rudez highlights

His name is pronounced DAHM-yun ROO-dejz. He says fans can call him by his nickname Damo (DAHM-oh). Rudez came to the United States last month for workouts in Cleveland and Indianapolis.

“Damjan is one of the best shooters in Europe,” said Bird. “With his size and knowledge, he can play two positions for us. He has experience, maturity and really knows how to play. He had a number of options, he chose us and we’re thrilled he did. We look forward to having him in a Pacer uniform.”

“I pretty much get the idea of Larry’s magnitude here in Indiana,” said Rudez. “His presence and his words had a huge impact on my decision. Obviously having Larry Bird telling me that he wants me on the team is something that doesn’t happen every day. I’m honored to have it happen to me.”

Lavoy Allen (6-9, 225 lbs.) is enjoying a big summer. Re-signing with the Pacers settles his immediate basketball future. More important to his future is his August 3rd marriage to his fiancée Dolores in Philadelphia.

“A very exciting and busy summer for me,” said Allen. “I can’t wait until the wedding there to come and go so I can get focused on the season. I’m very happy to be back. It’s a great organization.”

Allen and Evan Turner joined the Pacers in a late February trade that sent Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen played in just 14 games, averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds.

"We're very happy to have Lavoy back,” said Bird. “When he had the opportunity to play, he played well. He fits in with what we're trying to accomplish here and every day he's committed to getting better."

Allen was the 76ers second round pick (50th overall) in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Temple University. He played two and a half seasons with the 76ers before being traded to the Pacers. Allen started 37 games for the 76ers in the 2012-13 season. He hopes he can find a bigger role with the Pacers next season.

“I’m excited about just being here from day one this year and hopefully fighting for a chance to play,’ said Allen. “I’m just going to come in in really good shape and perform the best that I can.”