Busy New Orleans agrees to deal with guard Jackson

Updated: July 2, 2006, 10:26 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The New Orleans Hornets agreed to terms Sunday with free-agent guard Bobby Jackson, adding another veteran presence to an improving team.

Point Guard
Memphis Grizzlies

71 11.4 3.1 2.7 .382 .733

Jackson's agent, Andy Miller, said Jackson had agreed to a multiyear deal with the Hornets but wouldn't disclose the terms.

NBA teams were allowed to begin negotiating with free agents Saturday but cannot officially sign players until July 12. Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said the team planned to sign Jackson after the moratorium ends but declined further comment, citing league rules.

Jackson averaged 11.4 points and 2.7 assists per game and shot 39 percent from 3-point range last season, coming mainly off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Word of his plans to sign with New Orleans came a day after the Hornets confirmed they had reached agreement with three-time All-Star Peja Stojakovic. Stojakovic's agent, David Bauman, said that five-year deal would be worth $64 million.

Jackson and Stojakovic, who were teammates with the Sacramento Kings for five seasons, will join a Hornets team that had a 20-win improvement this past season and stayed in the Western Conference playoff race until the season's final week, finishing 38-44.

"We want Bobby to be in a position to play in a wide-open style and in a very specific role," Miller said. "With the personnel that Jeff has put in place ... and what they did last year, we felt this was the right time and the right place to put ourselves in a situation where we could have a major impact."

The 6-foot-1 Jackson, who won the NBA's Sixth Man Award in 2003, became a free agent after one season with Memphis. He made $3.375 million last season, the last in a six-year deal he signed with the Kings in 2000. Sacramento traded Jackson to Memphis last August.

Jackson played 71 games for the Grizzlies last year, but missed big portions of his final three seasons with Sacramento because of injuries. He sat out 51 games in 2004-05 because of a torn ligament in his wrist.

Jackson has a 10.2-point career scoring average in nine seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento and Memphis.

Hornets coach Byron Scott said last month that the team's top offseason priorities were to add a shot-blocker and rebounder and a shooter or two to open the game up for leading scorers David West (17.1) and Rookie of the Year Chris Paul (16.1).

The Hornets used their two first-round draft picks on big men, Hilton Armstrong of Connecticut and Cedric Simmons of North Carolina State.

Jackson plays the same position as free-agent guard Speedy Claxton, a seven-year veteran who both backed up and teamed with Paul last season in the Hornets' backcourt, averaging 12.3 points and 4.8 assists per game. Team officials had said re-signing Claxton would be a major offseason priority.

Miller said that people within the NBA are taking notice of the Hornets' push to rebuild their roster.

"They have put the league on their heels," Miller said. "Everyone is talking about how aggressive they're being right now and that they're putting an emphasis on winning right now. But I don't think they're stockpiling for today. I think they have a nice blend of players to continue to have success now and in the long-term future."

Miller, who also represents Rasual Butler -- another of the Hornets' free agents -- said it's unlikely the 6-foot-7 forward will re-sign with the team. Butler led Hornets regulars in 3-pointers (92) and 3-point shooting percentage (38.0) last season.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press