The former UH star will
no longer have to focus
on finding a team
Carl English's mission in this week's NBA summer league has changed.
Instead of simply being a chance to audition for NBA teams, the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue now represents an opportunity for the former Hawaii player to prepare for training camp after signing a free-agent contract with the Indiana Pacers yesterday.
"It's a dream come true, it's something I've been working hard for and it's a relief," English said in a telephone interview.
English, a 6-foot-5 guard, decided to forgo his last year of eligibility at UH to enter the NBA Draft in the spring. After not being selected, English was invited to participate in a Pacers mini-camp for rookies and free agents, and to play on Indiana's summer league team in the Rocky Mountain Revue.
Although he committed to play for the Pacers in the summer, English was free to shop himself around the league and sign with another team. But the Pacers ended the speculation by signing English to a two-year deal yesterday.
English, 22, joins an organization headed by two of the game's greats in Larry Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, and head coach Isiah Thomas.
"We wanted to get the contract done before the start of the summer leagues," said Harold Cipin, English's agent. "We were in discussions with a number of teams and the Pacers showed a real interest in Carl.
"It's a wonderful environment for someone of his ability to work under," Cipin added. "Bird and Isiah Thomas have taken a real liking to him and the skills he brings to the team. Everybody there has really embraced him."
Financial details of English's contract were not released by the team and he will still have to make the roster. The NBA's minimum salary for rookies for the 2003-04 season is $367,000. The amount jumps to $564,000 for second-year players.
English will play with the Indiana/Philadelphia split-squad in the Rocky Mountain Revue. The team opens against Denver tomorrow at Salt Lake Community College.
English, 22, joins an Indiana club that went 48-34 in the regular season to finish second in the Central Division. The Pacers were then upset by Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Pacers signed All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal on Wednesday to a seven-year deal reportedly worth $126 million. The team is looking to retain two more prominent free agents in forward Brad Miller and guard Reggie Miller.
English finished his UH career as the program's seventh all-time leading scorer and set the school's single-season record for 3-point goals with 89 last season.
He averaged 19.6 points for the Rainbows as a junior and was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference first team. He was also named a Verizon Academic All-American.
He helped lead the Rainbows to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a National Invitation Tournament berth last season.
English is the second former Rainbow in the last two years to sign a free-agent contract. Predrag Savovic also endured draft-night disappointment before signing with the Denver Nuggets last year.
"I feel good for Carl," UH coach Riley Wallace said. "He was just like Savo, he was really down because they both thought they were going to be drafted.
"But he's better off not getting drafted in the second round, because now he was able to pick his team; Indiana needs shooters and Isiah liked him. ... Indiana will be a good fit for him."
English is the first player from Newfoundland, Canada, to sign an NBA contract and is slated to be the 18th Canadian to play in the league. Four Canadians were on NBA rosters last season -- Steve Nash (Dallas), Rick Fox (Los Angeles Lakers), Jamaal Magloire (New Orleans) and Todd MacCulloch (Philadelphia).
"It's a big deal for me, but it's more the fact of just making it," English said. "It doesn't matter where you're from, when you put in the hard work and dedication dreams can come true."