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Rose, Croshere Keep Pace

Jalen Rose, the NBA's most improved player last season, and Austin Croshere, who blossomed into one of the league's top reserves with his strong performance in the finals, re-signed with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

Rose signed a 7-year deal worth $93 million, according to his agent, David Falk. Croshere, a bench-warmer most of his first two seasons in the NBA, reportedly signed for $51 million over seven years.

"It's a very surreal moment," Croshere said. "I don't think it's sunk in. Throughout the negotiations, hearing the numbers thrown out, it's kind of like Monopoly money at that point."

Unlike Croshere, who visited several other teams to test his value as a free agent, Rose neither talked with nor considered any other offers.

"My head and heart the entire time was to be an Indiana Pacer," he said. "I said from the beginning that I was going to continue to remain an Indiana Pacer and try to do what I could to help this team and city win a championship."

The 6-foot-8 Rose, who moved into the Pacers' starting lineup at small forward last season, displaced Reggie Miller as the team's leading scorer, averaging 18.2 points.

Rose came to Indiana in a 1996 trade with Denver and spent most of his time on the bench for then-coach Larry Brown. Rose began getting more playing time the next year, after Larry Bird replaced Brown, and he became a top reserve in 1998.

He emerged as a star after he replaced veteran Chris Mullin in Indiana's starting lineup, and he averaged 20.8 points during the playoffs, with a career-high 40 points against Philadelphia.

Rose, who did not attend the news conference at Conseco Fieldhouse Wednesday night he had to catch a plane said in a statement the recent hiring of Isiah Thomas to replace Bird also had a part in his decision to stay.

"The coach is a big part of any team," said Rose, who grew up watching Thomas play for his hometown Detroit Pistons. "He is the guy who dictates playing time. He is the guy who dictates the style of play.

"Anytime you replace a guy like Larry Bird and you replace him with a Hall of Famer, like we did, it made the opportunity to remain a Pacer a lot more attractive," he said.

Sam Perkins re-signed Tuesday for one year at about $2.5 million, and the Pacers expect to re-sign at least two of their three other free agent Miller, Mark Jackson and Rik Smits. Contract talks with Smits have been delayed while he decides whether he wants to retire.

Croshere averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 81 games last season, when the Pacers reached the NBA Finals for the first time. He had a career-high 24 points in Game 2 of the finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and averaged 15.2 points and 6.0 rebounds off the bench in the series, which the Pacers lost in six games.

The 6-9 Croshere a first-round draft pick out of Providence in 1997 became a top reserve last season after seeing limited action in his first two years in the league. He reportedly was offered more than $50 million over six years by the Toronto Raptors.

"The opportunity to finish the business we started last year was a huge part," he said of his decision to stay with Indiana. "Being in the finals was the most important thing I've done as a basketball player, and the opportunity to get back there far outweighed any of the positives the other teams could have offered."

Miller, who will be starting his 14th year in the NBA, earned more than $9 million last season and reportedly wants a three- or four-year deal that would keep him with the Pacers the rest of his career.

Jackson, also a 13-year veteran, is likely to get a raise over his $4 million salary, but the length of his contract is under discussion.

"We are serious about having last season's team back," general manager David Kahn said. "We're working hard to get it done as quickly as possible."

Kahn described talks with agents representing the players as amicable.

"In some cases we're crunching numbers. This is a long process for us because our situation is unique with six free agents," he said.

©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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