It wasn’t his first choice, but Rickey Paulding will play pro basketball overseas next season.
Paulding’s agent, Doug Neustadt, said on Tuesday that Paulding signed a one-year contract to play basketball in Jerusalem.
“He’s going to make good money. They’ll treat him as a king, and he’ll use this as a stepping stone,” Neustadt said.
The Detroit Pistons drafted Paulding in the second round (54th overall pick) after his senior season at Missouri, but Neustadt said the Pistons are not a roster-friendly team right now. The NBA champions already have 15 contracts guaranteed for the 2004-05 season.
Consequently, Paulding opted to gain pro experience playing for one of the best teams in Europe, Hapoel Jerusalem. He leaves for Israel today.
Hapoel plays in the Israeli League, as well as the Union of European Basketball Leagues. Hapoel won the ULEB Cup last season and reached the Israeli League final three times during the past eight seasons.
“We really like Rickey Paulding and thought this would be a win-win situation for both Rickey and the Pistons,” Joe Dumars, Pistons president of basketball operations, said Tuesday. “He’s going to get to play at the pro level and get valuable minutes and experience.”
Paulding, who played four seasons at Missouri and averaged 15.1 points last season for the Tigers, replaces Kelly McCarty, the ULEB Cup MVP, at guard.
“Obviously, I, as well as Rickey and his family, would prefer for him to play in the NBA but it’s not in our control, and this is the next best option,” Neustadt said.
— The Associated Press contributed to this article.