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Jeff Foster retires

Sad news. Jeff Foster has announced his retirement from the Indiana Pacers after being unable to get over the back issues that have been plaguing him all season (and the last couple of seasons). At 35 it’s a little young, but when you’re done you’re done, and it’s good he was getting out before it got a lot worse

It’s unfortunate, as when he did play, Foster was still one of the  best rebounding hustle machines around, and actually helped out the team much more than guys like Pendergraph and Amundson. The good news is that Foster is staying in Indiana and will hopefully work in the Pacers front office some day. He’s also going to be hanging around the team for the remainder of the season, and his presence and professionalism will continue to be appreciated.

Foster was drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors and has played every single game of his NBA career for the Pacers, putting him in elite company with Reggie Miller and Rik Smits. Sure, Foster’s career numbers were modest at best — 4.9 points, 6.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game, for 764 games, including 345 starts — but his presence was undeniably positive. He was one of the best rebounders of the modern era even if his averages don’t jump out — he is 8th in NBA history in terms of rebound rate (the percentage of available rebounds grabbed) and 5th all-time in offensive rebound rate. Do you realize how crazy that is for a white guy from Texas who is a weak 6’11” (he’s not a long player for his height), just 250 pounds and not supremely athletic?

But it wasn’t just his rebounding either. Foster could defend both fours and fives pretty well, block shots, take charges, set screens and do all the dirty work. He was also more than willing to play the villain, as he did against the Bulls in the playoffs last year. Jeff was the last remaining member of the Pacers team that made the NBA Finals in 2000 (even though he didn’t play), and I guess it’s time to finally let that glorious past go. This new Pacers team has a chance to be pretty good too in a few years, hopefully.

To fill the hole left by Jeff, the Pacers signed Kyrylo Fesenko for the remainder of the season. Fesenko will be a contingency plan and not much more than that. He isn’t particularly skilled but he does offer a 7’1″, 280 pound body that he likes to throw around a bit.

Thanks Jeff. Your efforts were appreciated and you will be missed.