Agent: Stojakovic 'happy' with Pacers, wants to stay
But first Stojakovic and his new team need to agree on a contract.
Stojakovic came to Indiana from Sacramento in a midseason trade for Ron Artest. He wants to stay, even though he'll officially become a free agent next month, his agent David Bauman said.
"There's no question Peja was happy in Indiana," Bauman said. "He would like to re-sign, and he would like to finish his career as a Pacer."
Pacers president Larry Bird has said keeping the 28-year-old Stojakovic is a priority. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 19.5 points in 40 regular-season games after the trade.
"We want to do what's best for the franchise," Bird said recently. "Hopefully, we can get a deal done with him."
Bauman said Stojakovic and O'Neal could become one of the best inside-outside tandems in the league.
O'Neal averaged 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, playing hurt during much of the second half. Stojakovic, an eight-year veteran, has career averages of 18.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.
"He thinks that with him and Jermaine ... they can build around them," Bauman said.
But Stojakovic also missed 11 games this season and 16 last season because of injuries, including a protruding disc in his lower back, a sprained right pinkie finger and a strained groin. He missed four of Indiana's six playoff games with a sore right knee as the Pacers lost in the first round to New Jersey.
Still, Bauman said he left a meeting with Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh feeling confident the Pacers would try to get a deal done.
"We're making a lot of phone calls, but he asked me to give the Pacers every opportunity to re-sign him. If the Pacers do what they say they're going to do, that should happen," he said.
Stojakovic had an early termination clause in his six-year contract that allowed him to choose after the fifth year whether to finish the contract or become a free agent. His current contract would pay him $8.125 million next season.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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