Jackson joins Nets broadcast team

New Jersey Nets: Former Knicks star Mark Jackson will team with play-by-play man Marv Albert on the YES Network's Nets telecasts this season.

Jackson, the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1988, set the league's single-season rookie record for assists. He played five seasons
with the Knicks before playing for the Clippers,
Indiana, Denver, Toronto, New York again, Utah and Houston before retiring following the 2003-04 season.

When he retired, Jackson ranked second in the NBA with 10,334
career assists, 10th with 1,296 career games played and 20th with
1,608 career steals.

"Its great to return to my roots and team up with an
institution such as Marv Albert on YES Nets telecasts," Jackson
said. "I feel that the Nets have the ability to make a run deep
into the playoffs, and their intense, aggressive, unselfish style
of play will make for exciting telecasts."

The YES Network's 81-game regular-season Nets broadcast schedule tips off
Nov. 2, when New Jersey plays host to Milwaukee.

Houston Rockets: Veteran forward Vin Baker's tumultuous career has taken another downward turn.

The Houston Rockets on Friday waived Baker, who has played for three teams over the past two seasons after spending the first nine of his career with Milwaukee and Seattle.

A four-time All-Star from 1995-98 and a member of the United States' Olympic gold medal-winning squad in 2000, Baker has averaged 15.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 783 games.

But Baker, who turns 34 on November 23, has struggled mightily in the past few seasons as he has battled alcoholism.

After averaging 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds with Seattle in the 2001-02 season, he was traded to Boston and averaged just 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds the following campaign.

In the 2003-04 season, the Celtics terminated the final 2 1/2 seasons of his contract for violating his alcohol treatment program after he missed a 10th straight game .

Arbitrator Roger Kaplan overruled an NBA order that prevented Baker from signing with other teams until his grievance with the Boston Celtics was resolved. He finished that season with the New York Knicks.

Last season, Baker was traded from New York to Houston on February 24. He averaged just 0.7 points and 0.7 rebounds in three games with the Rockets.

Seattle Supersonics: The Seattle SuperSonics released guards Tre
Simmons and Ezra Williams on Friday, reducing their roster to 18

Both were signed as free agents last week.

Simmons, an all-Pac-10 Conference selection at Washington,
averaged 16 points last season as the Huskies earned a No. 1 seed
in the NCAA tournament.

Williams left Georgia after his junior year in 2003. He spent
last season playing for the Great Lakes Storm of the CBA and
averaged 20.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. He played with Seattle's
summer league team.

New Orleans Hornets: The New Orleans Hornets' chief marketing
officer has become the second executive to resign his position,
officials said Friday.

Team president Paul Mott confirmed the departure of Tim
McDougall, who was hired by the team to increase ticket sales. Mott
didn't say why McDougall, who was with the team for 6 1/2 months, was

McDougall couldn't be reached for comment.

Last Saturday, Allan Bristow resigned as general manager, citing
health concerns.

Mott said the team's relocation from New Orleans to Oklahoma
City because of Hurricane Katrina has been difficult for some of
the team's employees.

"During this time of great change and uncertainty, there have
been a number of people who have not opted to come to Oklahoma
City," Mott said. "Some who couldn't bring themselves to leave
Louisiana in a time of great need. Others had family and things
that made the decision to come to Oklahoma City very hard."

Philadelphia 76ers: New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith teamed with former NBA star Julius Erving on Thursday, calling for the passage of a bill that would increase stem cell research by using umbilical cord blood.

Smith is the sponsor of a measure, approved in the House by a 431-1 vote earlier this year, that would create a new federal cord blood stem cell program, reauthorize and expand the current federal bone marrow stem cell program. The Senate has yet to vote on a bill identical to Smith's measure, and the congressman and Erving urged
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to bring the bill to the floor
for a vote.

"Delay is denial, especially for the sick who will not benefit
from cord blood transplantation because the Senate inexplicably
delayed," Smith said. "Make no mistake, for these sick children
and adults, this is a matter of life or death."

Erving, who became involved in the issue because cord blood has
been used to treat people with sickle cell anemia, flew to
Washington from Florida to attend the news conference because he
said the measure would help save lives.

"Each year thousands of Americans die who could be saved if
larger and more diverse inventories of umbilical cord stem cells
were in existence," said Erving, a Hall of Famer and currently the
vice president of the Magic.

Blood saved from newborns' umbilical cords is rich in a type of
stem cells that produces blood in the same manner that transplanted
bone marrow produces it. The Institute of Medicine recently
estimated that cord blood could help treat about 11,700 Americans a
year with leukemia and other devastating diseases, yet most is
routinely discarded.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.