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By DANNY P. SMITH
It has almost been a year since Starkville native Travis Outlaw signed a five-year contract with the New Jersey Nets.
Outlaw hopes people won't judge him or the Nets on the first year.
The 2010-11 season was one of adjustment for Outlaw in New Jersey.
After beginning his NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers and having a brief stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, Outlaw embarked on a new beginning with the Nets.
Outlaw was getting used to his new surroundings in New Jersey and the Nets were trying to find the best place for him to fit in.
"It was the first year and for everybody, there were some ups and downs," Outlaw said. "It's just trying to figure out the system with new teammates and it was like we were always in transition."
Outlaw averaged 9.2 points and four rebounds in 82 games for New Jersey last season. His 55 starts was a career-high and he averaged 28.8 minutes per game.
The Nets struggled as a team with a 24-58 record and finished fourth in the Atlantic Division.
Outlaw knows the players in New Jersey aren't getting any younger, but still has high hopes for what the team can accomplish.
"I like to call us a middle-aged team," Outlaw said. "We've got the potential to make it to the playoffs."
Outlaw has played in 482 games during his eight-year NBA career and has 87 starts to his credit. He has career averages of 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
His best season in terms of scoring came in 2007-08 with Portland when he averaged 13.3 points per game.
Travis' father John expects better things from his son as his career with the Nets enters a second season.
In conversation with New Jersey head coach Avery Johnson, John overheard that the coaches would like for Travis to put up at least 17 shots per outing.
Even though Travis felt there weren't the opportunities to take that many shots last year, things may be different moving forward.
"(Johnson) said, 'I want you to put up those 17 shots' so this year, Travis said it's on," John Outlaw said.
There's one problem that may keep that from happening for a while.
The NBA is currently in a work stoppage as the players have been locked out. There's a possibility that part if not all of next season will be lost if the two sides don't settle the labor disputes soon.
Outlaw wishes the lockout could have been avoided, but knows it's just a situation that needs to be worked out.
"It's never fun because right now the players are out of work," Outlaw said. "You never like to be out of work so it's a little bit of a transition."
In the meantime, Outlaw plans to enjoy time with his family at home and work out as much as possible.