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New Jersey adds scoring threat

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.