Artest, Bender Sign Contract Extensions

by Jeff Tzucker
by Conrad Brunner

Oct. 31, 2002

Indianapolis, Oct. 31, 2002 - The Indiana Pacers announced that Ron Artest and Jonathan Bender signed contract extensions with the team. Per club policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

Artest, a 6-7, 247-pound forward, is in his first full season with the Pacers. He was the 16th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft and was acquired on Feb. 19, 2002 from the Chicago Bulls.

The 7-0, 219-pound Bender has played with the Pacers the last three seasons and was the 5th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft.

“I am extremely happy to extend all of our players that were eligible to be extended,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Donnie Walsh. “In the case of Jonathan Bender, we have a lot of faith in the player that he will become and has started to become. And in the case of Ron Artest, he has the opportunity to be a truly terrific all-around player. We are very happy with both of these signings.”

“It feels good to be playing with a good organization,” said Artest. “I said all along that I wanted to re-sign with the Pacers. Now I can focus on playing winning basketball and winning a championship.”

“It feels great to know that I will be a member of the Indiana Pacers for years to come,” said Bender. “I have a lot of respect for Donnie and the Pacers’ organization as a whole and look forward to helping this team win.”

Artest has posted career averages of 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.03 steals per game in 203 contests.

Bender has averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 161 games in three seasons. He established career-highs during the 2001-02 season by playing in 78 games and averaging 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.