The Indiana Pacers, who have been embarrassed by some off-the-court incidents involving their players, believe they will have no problems with first-round draft picks Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert.
At least that's the hope of Pacers' president Larry Bird, who announced the duo's signing Tuesday in Indianapolis.
"If Brandon would just pay his parking tickets, we'd be fine," Bird said, jokingly.
The Hall of Famer was referring to former Kansas University standout Rush's being arrested last December on two outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court for traffic violations. The matter quickly was resolved by Rush, who emerged as leading scorer on the Jayhawks' 2008 national championship team.
"I don't think you have to worry about these two individuals," Bird said. "Roy went to Georgetown, and I know they expect a lot out of their players. As well schooled as they are at Kansas, I don't expect any problems with these two. They're hard workers. They're dedicated to get their games better, and they'll be involved in the community. What more can you ask?"
Rush, according to the NBA rookie-salary scale, will be paid $1,499,300 next season and $1,611,800 in 2009-10. The team has an option for a contract that will pay Rush $1,724,300 in 2010-11.
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien says Rush will contribute immediately.
"I think he can be an outstanding defensive player with some work and some growth," O'Brien said. "He already knows how to put the ball in the basket."
In fact, O'Brien can envision No. 13 draft pick Rush and No. 17 Hibbert in the rotation next season.
"I said to Brandon, 'What are your expectations for this year?', and he said 'I'd like to just come in and fit in,' and Roy just said about the same thing right there," O'Brien said. "I'm not interested in these guys coming in to fit in and not step on anybody's feet. As a matter of fact, I would like them to compete for starting jobs. That's what we want. I said to Brandon, 'If you want to come in and fit in, the veterans would be more than happy to let you fit in. We want you to compete against the veterans.'''
Rush will be battling Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy for minutes.
"I knew that coming in that I was going to have to compete," Rush said. "I'm going to give it my best. I love playing with a team like this. We play pretty much the same way we did in Kansas, so it's easy to fit in, somewhat."
¢ Releford scores 11: KU guard Travis Releford scored 11 points off 5-of-9 shooting in Team USA's 115-51 victory over Bahamas on Tuesday at the FIBA Under 18 championships in Argentina. Releford had four steals, three assists, two rebounds and zero turnovers in 16 minutes. Next up for the U.S., 2-0 at the tourney, is today's game against Puerto Rico.
¢ New jersey numbers: Here are jersey numbers for KU's new basketball players: Quintrell Thomas (11), Tyshawn Taylor (15), Markieff Morris (21), Marcus Morris (22), Mario Little (23), Travis Releford (24) and Tyrone Appleton (32). Returnees Brennan Bechard and Chase Buford have switched to No. 10 and 41 respectively.
¢ Taylor scores 47: Freshman point guard Taylor, believe it or not, scored 47 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a Kansas City Pro-Am game on Tuesday at Penn Valley Community College. He also had six assists for The Hawks in a game against the Cavaliers.
¢ Self contract update: Mark Mangino isn't the only Jayhawk coach to net a new contract. Details are being finalized for a new pact for basketball coach Bill Self. When will the signing of Self's contract be announced?
"I guess the best way to say it is, 'We're working on it,''' KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said. "There is no rush, no artificial deadline. It'll be done as quickly as it can be done."
He noted that it's been challenging "for a lot of people's schedules to mesh" in finalizing the pact.