European star Sarunas Jasikevicius preferred a chance to go for an NBA title with the Indiana Pacers over an opportunity to play alongside one of his best friends with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 29-year-old former Maryland guard, who won three consecutive Euroleague championships, agreed to a three-year deal with the Pacers, his agent, Doug Neustadt, said yesterday.

Financial terms weren't disclosed. Jasikevicius cannot sign a contract until terms of the new NBA collective bargaining agreement are finalized.

He could have agreed to play for Cleveland and joined fellow Lithuanian Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a year after being the best man in Ilgauskas's wedding. Instead, he picked the team with the better championship credentials.

Jasikevicius should help the Pacers offset the loss of Reggie Miller, who has retired. Indiana will get Ron Artest back from suspension next season.

Jasikevicius likely will compete with Jamaal Tinsley and Stephen Jackson for playing time.

Jasikevicius was passed over by NBA general managers the past few years, failing to get a significant contract offer. But he reopened some eyes at the Olympics after scoring 28 points and making three three-pointers down the stretch as Lithuania upset the United States last summer in Athens.

-- From News Services