Veterans signs as unrestricted free agent

Updated: August 4, 2004, 2:27 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Hornets signed Rodney Rogers to a one-year contract on Tuesday, addressing the possibility that Jamal Mashburn may be hobbled by a knee injury next season.

Rodney Rogers

Hornets coach Byron Scott, who also coached Rogers in New Jersey, said the 6-foot-7 forward likely would start at small forward if Mashburn remains sidelined with knee problems.

"It's a relief because it's a situation we've been trying to solve for the last month or so," Scott said. "If the Mash situation doesn't get better, then that's probably who you'll be looking at."

The Hornets announced both the Rogers deal and the signing of their second-round draft pick, Tim Pickett of Florida State, who also got a one-year deal. Financial terms were not released.

An 11-year veteran, Rogers declined to exercise an option on the final year of his contract with the Nets and became an unrestricted free agent.

The Nets had already lost two key players from last season -- Kenyon Martin to Denver and Kerry Kittles to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Rogers averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in his two years with the Nets. He played in 69 games last season, starting 15.

The deal is a homecoming of sorts for Rogers, who played in college at Wake Forest.

He acknowledged it would be "great for me," but not necessarily for the team, if Mashburn remained sidelined.

"When things like that happen -- and you hope and pray they don't -- it means there's an opportunity for somebody else," Rogers said.

Scott said the Hornets were trying to schedule an MRI for Mashburn to see if his right knee has improved. The injury kept the 2003 All-Star out of all but 19 games last season, and Mashburn said recently that strenuous activity causes the knee to swell as badly as last March, when his past season ended.

If Mashburn does return, Rogers still would see plenty of action backing up at both forward spots and perhaps even center, Scott said.

"He's a very unselfish basketball player, excellent passer, good rebounder, runs the floor well -- everything that I like," Scott said.

Pickett averaged nearly 17 points for Florida State last season, hitting about 41 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press