METAIRIE, La. (AP) Jarrett Jack joined the New Orleans Pelicans on a 10-day contract, giving the team backcourt depth as it heads into its final 24 games with a playoff berth within reach.
The 11-year veteran hasn’t played since seriously injuring his right knee 32 games into the 2015-16 season while he was a starter with Brooklyn. He averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 assists for the Nets last season.
”I’m ready to go. I’d do a disservice to the team or a disservice to myself if I didn’t feel like I could come down here and be myself,” said the 33-year-old guard, who worked out for the Pelicans on Thursday. ””Still feel spry, still feel I can get into the lane – just got to get into game shape.”
The Pelicans needed help in the backcourt after trading three guards – Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway – to acquire DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento on Sunday. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jack’s combination of versatility and experience made him a good fit.
”He’s a natural leader – got a little toughness,” Gentry said. ”He can play on the ball, off the ball. … He’s a very cerebral player. He knows the game and that always helps.”
Jack is willing to play either guard spot.
”I’ve been in those positions before and I’m ready and willing to do whatever’s necessary,” Jack said. ”It’s a pretty good opportunity” to play.
A former first-round draft choice out of Georgia Tech, Jack has been a journeyman. He has played productive roles for seven franchises – including New Orleans for two seasons from 2010 to 2012, when the club was called the Hornets. Jack was teammates with Chris Paul during his first season in New Orleans, helping the team make the playoffs.
”Getting an opportunity to come back to a place that I’m pretty familiar with is pretty cool,” said Jack, who also noticed how much has changed with the franchise since – from the roster to ownership to the practice site.
The Pelicans, who are 2+ games out of a Western Conference playoff spot, play at Dallas on Saturday night.
Jack also has played for Portland, Indiana, Toronto, Golden State and Cleveland. He has averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 assists during his career.
Jack called the opportunity to get even a 10-day deal ”tremendous,” but he wants to ”turn 10 into 11” and hopefully stay the rest of the season.
He is returning from his longest absence from pro basketball since his career began and tried to make the best of his time away from the game.
”There have been some positives,” Jack said. ”Getting to understand my body a little bit more, understand myself, give me time to reflect. And it allows you to really understand how much you really love this game if you’re passionate about it.”