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tiggerpolice 07-21-2005 01:00 PM

Robinson trying to go full circle with Hornets
 
Robinson trying to go full circle with Hornets
Veteran has chance at small forward
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
By John Reid
Staff writer
LAS VEGAS -- At 29, Eddie Robinson is nearly eight years older than most of the players he's competing against this week at the Vegas Summer League.

But like them, Robinson is trying to prove he can contribute next season. After taking a year off to recover from toe surgery, Robinson wants back into the NBA, and the Hornets are at the top of his list.

"The Hornets are my first choice before anybody," said Robinson, a 6-foot-9 small forward who is playing on the Hornets' summer league team. "I'm looking at whoever wants to give me an opportunity, and then I'll have to go with that. But the Hornets will always be my first option because they gave me an opportunity to come back into the league."

Robinson is a five-year veteran who started his career with the Hornets in Charlotte during the 1999-2000 season.

After playing two seasons with the Hornets, Robinson signed a five-year, $31.2 million free-agent contract to join the Chicago Bulls before the 2001-02 season.

Robinson didn't live up to expectations in Chicago, never averaging more than 6.7 points in three seasons, mainly as a reserve.

He said he's a changed player, that he is more team-oriented and willing to do whatever the coaches want. In Chicago, Robinson feuded with Bulls coach Scott Skiles, which ultimately led to the team's buying out the final two years of his contract for $10.5 million last November.

Robinson said his biggest problems in Chicago were mainly "family issues." Without getting into specifics, he said those problems are solved.

"The year off was very helpful," Robinson said. "I learned a lot about the league. It gave me a chance to sit back and watch the competition. I hated it, but it was something I had to go through. I won't let that ever happen again."

Robinson is a free agent, and the Hornets are desperate to find a small forward capable of making an impact. The only small forward on the roster is backup Bostjan Nachbar, who agreed to a contract with the Hornets 12 days ago.

General Manager Allan Bristow said the team is considering Robinson with several other players, including undrafted prospect Sean Banks. The Hornets made an unsuccessful push to sign free-agent small forward Bobby Simmons, who agreed to a five-year, $47 million deal to join the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We have a need at small forward, and it's wide-open," Bristow said. "Look at the opportunity it gave Lee Nailon last year, playing all those minutes. Eddie is a kind of guy who knows our situation, and this is the franchise where he started his career at, and maybe he could revive it here."

When the Hornets suggested that Robinson play on their summer league team last month, he did not object.

Last summer, Bristow made the same request to former Hornets player Courtney Alexander, who was coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Alexander declined to play, and the Hornets didn't offer him a contract.

Most of the players competing in summer league are in their first and second years and are recent draft picks.

"I'm especially trying to let these young fellas show what they can do," Robinson said. "Like I said, I started off with this organization, and the coaching staff is pretty much familiar with what I can still do.

"I don't think it's a pressure thing for me. I like Coach Byron Scott. You've got to have a tough coach to keep your game and your head right."

After the Bulls bought out his contract last year, Robinson initially agreed to join the New York Knicks. But Robinson could not pass the physical because of his toe problem, and the Knicks withdrew their offer.

Robinson eventually had surgery on his toe. After three summer league games, he has not shown any limitations. He is averaging 5.3 points in 18 minutes a game, with two starts. He has made 50 percent of his shots, most of which have been midrange jumpers.

"I haven't lost nothing; my capabilities are the same," Robinson said. " I watched guys like Reggie Miller and Richard Hamilton, and I try to run like them to get open. You try to learn and put it all on the floor.

"For me, it's just a matter of getting back on a team again, and the rest is history."

NOTES: Former Hornets point guard Baron Davis, who lives in Las Vegas during the offseason, was among the crowd watching rookie Chris Paul on Tuesday. After the game, Davis greeted several of his former teammates, including forward David West and guard J.R. Smith. . . . Smith led the Hornets with 16 points, and center Maciej Lampe scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Nets.

. . . . . . .


John Reid can be reached at jreid@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3405.


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