Roger Mason sees role as a veteran leader for New Orleans Hornets
As an unrestricted free agent this summer, veteran shooting guard Roger Mason attracted attention from the Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls. But Mason said none of those teams offered him a bigger role coming off the bench than what he expects to play for the Hornets this season. Seeking a team where he could blossom as a veteran leader, Mason signed a one-year contract with New Orleans last week.
“Obviously, I felt like this presented the best opportunity for me on the court,” said Mason, an eight-year veteran who has played for the Bulls, Spurs, Raptors, Knicks and Wizards since coming out of Virginia in 2002.
“Ultimately I have a level of excitement to come down with these young guys to play for Coach Monty Williams and to be with this organization.”
Mason, 31, averaged 5.5 points and 1.3 rebounds last season for the Wizards, and for the first time in six seasons he missed participating in the playoffs. He made his biggest impact playing for the San Antonio Spurs from 2008 to 2010, as current Hornets General Manager Dell Demps served as the Spurs’ director of pro player personnel. Mason helped the Spurs win a Southwest Division title in 2009 before they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals.
Mason has averaged 7.2 points per game for his career and has a .381 shooting percentage from 3-point range.
“I played for some great coaches, but there is no denying that Coach Gregg Popovich has had a lasting impact on my career,” Mason said. “Dell studied from the best, and I was fortunate enough to be there for a few years myself and I tried to take what I learned from there and also the other places where I’ve had success.”
The Hornets are rebuilding around shooting guard Eric Gordon and first-round draft picks Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, but Williams said they need veterans with leadership abilities like Mason.
“Looking at the roster and starting with Eric, he’s an All Star-type shooting guard, and I feel like I can help him,” said Mason, a Washington, D.C., native. “I can push him every day in practice and also with his approach and mentality.”