Knicks sign Jon Bender

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that free agent forward Jonathan Bender has been signed to a contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. assumes that the deal is a nonguaranteed contract for one season.

“Jonathan has worked extremely hard in preparing himself for a return to the NBA,” said Walsh. “I know him to be a young man of the highest character from my relationship with him that dates back 10 years to his rookie year and I think he will be a fine addition to our team both on and off the court.”

Bender, 7-0, 230-pounds, has career averages of 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 15.0 minutes in 237 games (27 starts) over seven NBA seasons, all with Indiana. The Picayune, MS-native was selected out of high school by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall selection in the 1999 NBA Draft and was acquired by the Pacers on Aug. 1, 1999 in exchange for Antonio Davis.

Bender enjoyed his most productive NBA season in 2001-02 when he averaged career-highs of 7.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 21.1 minutes in a career-high 78 games. Injuries forced Bender to miss 172 games over the next three seasons before he was forced to stop playing due to chronic knee pain on Feb. 4, 2006, after playing in just two games in 2005-06.

Bender founded The Jonathan Bender Foundation in New Orleans that has adopted elementary schools, taken on real estate ventures, offered free finance classes for some of New Orleans’ poorest residents and run free basketball clinics for teens in the New Orleans region. He also founded a construction company called Kingdom Homes that buys and restores flood-damaged properties in New Orleans’ most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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