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Croshere returns to Pacers as free agent

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Austin Croshere is one of many new faces at Indiana Pacers training camp, but his face is a familiar one.

The 11-year NBA veteran spent his first nine seasons with Indiana after being drafted by the Pacers 12th overall in 1997. He played the last two years in Dallas and Golden State.

"It's really an honor to be here," said Croshere, who signed a non-guaranteed free-agent contract with Indiana on Monday. "The past two years, not being here, I still followed the team closely."

Pacers coach Jim O'Brien was impressed with Croshere's first practice Tuesday morning.

Croshere, a 6-10 forward, will have to continue his strong play to earn a spot on the Pacers' 15-man regular-season roster. Indiana started camp with 18 players, 16 of whom are under contract.

"He wants to put himself in a position where we say, 'He has to be one of the guys on our team,"' O'Brien said. "If he plays every day like he played today, he'd be pretty darn good."

Croshere said he received invitations to other NBA camps, but his first choice was to return to Indiana.

"This is where my heart was and this is where I wanted to be," he said. "I was glad they were able to invite me and hopefully things work out for the season.

"I think there's a legitimate opportunity for me to make the team. How good those chances are, I don't know," he added. "Obviously, some business things would have to happen, but right now I'm only worried about things I have control over."

If Croshere makes the team, it would be his 10th season with Indiana. Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Dale Davis, Vern Fleming and Jeff Foster are the only other players in franchise history to play at least nine seasons with the Pacers.

Croshere ranks seventh on Indiana's all-time NBA career list with 540 games played. His 376 3-pointers made is fourth best in team history.

"It would really be an honor to make it back to this team," he said. "That's my whole goal in being here, getting the fans back in the building and making the playoffs."

Croshere, who has averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds during his NBA career, is one of nine new players at Pacers camp.

Foster believes all the changes were a good thing.

"I was an excited observer, just like I think most people are here in Indianapolis," Foster said of the offseason roster shake-up. "We just ask that (fans) be patient and allow us to come together as a team."

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