New Jersey adds scoring threat

Updated: August 12, 2004, 4:55 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets signed free-agent guard Ron Mercer to a two-year contract worth just over $3 million Thursday.


The seven-year veteran fills the team's hole at two guard and adds another scoring threat to go alongside Jason Kidd.

"I'm definitely glad to have this opportunity to come here and play hard and do the things this team needs me to do," Mercer said. "I'm ready to start immediately, ready to play right now."

The 6-foot-7 Mercer played with San Antonio last season, averaging a career-low 5.0 points and 13.2 minutes a game. He joins his seventh NBA team, having previously played for Boston, Denver, Orlando, Chicago, and Indiana.

Mercer has averaged 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 414 career games, while shooting 43 percent from the field.

"He will compete immediately for the starting position at the two spot," Nets general manager Ed Stefanski said. "He gives us scoring ability. He can handle the ball. He's a scorer."

Stefanski said the team had Mercer undergo an MRI on his ankle, which showed no evidence of a past injury. Mercer missed several games last season with a left ankle injury.

Drafted by Boston with the sixth overall pick in 1997, Mercer won NBA All-Rookie first team honors.

"I just think right now at this part of my career I'm ready to go out and do all the things I'm capable of doing," Mercer said. "The last two or three years I haven't had the opportunity because of playing time to show what I'm capable of doing."

Mercer said he was contacted by five or six teams, but wanted to play for coach Lawrence Frank.

"He tried to recruit me while I was in high school," Mercer said. "He was a funny, good guy, just like he is now. He hasn't changed at all. He still looks the same. That's one guy that I trusted over the years."

Mercer helped Indiana reach the playoffs in each of his two seasons with the Pacers. In 11 playoff games with Indiana, Mercer averaged 7.1 points and 2.1 rebounds. In their first-round series against New Jersey in 2002, Mercer averaged 7.8 points while shooting 50 percent from the field in five games.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press