By Steve Hunt/Special to the Journal
LOS ANGELES – It seems like only yesterday that Starkville High School product Travis Outlaw went 23rd overall in the NBA Draft to Portland. But the 6-foot-9 forward was drafted in 2003 and is now in his 10th season in the Association.
He has appeared in 10 games this season for Sacramento and is averaging 3.6 points and two rebounds. His best performance came in a 99-80 win in Portland on Dec. 8 when he had 11 points and four rebounds off the bench. “You always want to play well against your former team. That was a great feeling. The fans were very supportive,” Outlaw said.
Kings head coach Keith Smart definitely liked what he saw from the veteran big man against the Blazers. “He went in that game, played, made shots and made some plays both on offense and defense,” Smart said.
At 28, he’s one of the veteran members of the Sacramento roster and finds himself regularly mentoring his younger teammates, which could serve as a precursor for a move into coaching once his playing days are over. “That hasn’t entered my mind yet,” he said. “I do like coaching young guys, maybe I’d coach at the high school level.”
Of course, Outlaw would prefer to log more minutes and have a more clearly defined role in Sacramento, but he’s been around long enough to know that sometimes being patient isn’t a bad thing. Besides the Kings, he has also played for the Blazers, Clippers and Nets, who cut him loose in Dec. 2011 using the amnesty clause just months after he signed a five-year contract. And while some might lament changing teams three times in nine seasons, he sees things differently.
“I can’t complain. I’m truly blessed. God’s been good to me,” he said. “It was understandable. My thing is you can’t look at the negative. You’ve got to always be positive about everything.”
Outlaw’s one burning desire is to return to the playoffs, where he hasn’t been since 2009.
“The atmosphere, it feels like it’s a whole new level of basketball, which it is. It’s definitely exciting,” Outlaw said. “Yeah, that’s one of my goals-get back to the playoffs.”
Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.