He'll wear No. 2 this time. He was 32 in high school and then 3 in college with Eastern Washington and for his first seven seasons in the NBA, but now he's going with 2.
Simple. It's Part 2 of his professional career. A second chance to prove his worth.
“It's a fresh start and I'm excited for it,” Rodney Stuckey said Monday morning, when he met with the media at Bankers Life Fieldhouse after signing his contract with the Pacers.
Stuck in an ever-churning windmill in Detroit, playing for six coaches over seven seasons and with an endless parade of teammates, Stuckey looks forward to stability – particularly stability combined with success. Pacers fans might be feeling frustrated by a season that produced 56 wins and a second consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals, but to Stuckey that looks more like an oasis in the desert.
He comes from an organization that reached the conference finals his rookie season, lost in the first round of the playoffs his second season, but hasn't been back in the five years since.
“I want to win; I want to go to the playoffs,” Stuckey said. “It's not fun having the whole summer to do nothing. I just want to play basketball. This is a good opportunity to come and do that.”
Stuckey's role in helping the Pacers reach the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season is undetermined, probably until things shake out in training camp. He and fellow free agent signing C.J. Miles are likely to contend for the starting position vacated by Lance Stephenson. Both say they're willing to “do whatever,” as Stuckey put it. Start, come off the bench, whatever, just find a way to fit in. But they'll go about it in different ways.
Miles is primarily a perimeter shooter, one who hit nearly 40 percent of his three-pointers each of the past two seasons. Stuckey has hit better than 30 percent of his three-point attempts just twice in his NBA career. He's an athletic combo guard, more of a slasher than a shooter. Still, he's capable of scoring outbursts, such as the 40-point game he produced against the Chicago Bulls in December of 2008.
His frustration in Detroit occasionally showed, such as when he reportedly refused to re-enter a game late in the 2010-11 season, but considers himself a compliant piece of any winning team. He doesn't care to call attention to himself, to the extreme of avoiding all social media. No Twitter handle, no Faceback account, nothing.
“You live and learn, you grow from every situation,” he said.
“I'm not going to have a problem fitting in with these guys. I'm very humble, laid-back, respectful. We're not going to have a problem getting along.”
He'll have little choice. As a 28-year-old, seven-year veteran on a one-year contract, reportedly for the veteran's minimum, he's like a rookie who needs to prove himself. For the second time.
“I don't worry about that,” he said. “Growing up, I didn't have money. Money's not really an issue to me. (It's about) starting over and being with a great team and a great organization.”