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Starkville native Travis Outlaw officially takes the court for his new team tonight as the New Jersey Nets begin the National Basketball Association season.
It's the hope of Outlaw that he can provide a spark and help the Nets do something they have been struggling with lately â€“ win games.
With the hiring of coach Avery Johnson, Outlaw believes New Jersey has taken steps to steering the organization in the right direction.
"I talked on the phone with Avery, and they want to win," Outlaw said on July 14 when he was signed by the Nets. "It is great. He has experienced winning, and I can't wait to get started."
New Jersey opens the season against the Detroit Pistons at 6 p.m. and Outlaw is expected to be a valuable member of the squad this season.
In eight preseason games, Outlaw has scored 74 points (9.3 average) and pulled down 36 rebounds (4.5 average). He started every game and averaged 28.5 minutes.
Outlaw made 25 of 70 shots from the field for 36 percent, including 11 of 28 from three-point range for 39 percent. He has made 13 of 20 from the free-throw line for 65 percent.
When the Nets beat the New York Knicks 117-110 in their final preseason game, Outlaw had five points, three rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.
Outlaw has been given the opportunity on the East Coast by New Jersey after starting his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. His contract with the Nets is for five years and $35 million.
"I guess they were looking for an athletic 3 so I definitely think I fit that role and I can shoot a little bit," Outlaw said. "I'll be a good fit for the team.
"I'm definitely coming out aggressive and just showcase my talent, my ability and just work hard."
Outlaw will be a part of a starting lineup that includes fellow forward Joe Smith, center Brooks Lopez and guards Anthony Morrow and Devin Harris. Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro, who signed on the same day as Outlaw, are also expected to contribute.
"With guys like Farmar, he knows what it takes to be on a championship caliber team," Outlaw said. "Petro is coming in from Denver, a playoff run, and Anthony, he's a knock down shooter."
Outlaw is coming off a season where he averaged 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21.5 minutes with the Trail Blazers and the Clippers. He has played 400 regular season games during his career with averages of 21.6 minutes, 9.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Portland took Outlaw in the first round (23rd overall) in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Starkville High School.