New Orleans Hornets forward Jamal Mashburn will miss the entire NBA season with a lingering right knee injury that could spell the end of the former all-star's career, the team announced yesterday.

"His knee has simply not improved," Hornets General Manager Allan Bristow said in a statement. "He still has significant swelling caused by bone rubbing on bone."

Mashburn, 31, said at a news conference in New Orleans that retirement is a possibility but he was holding out hope he could play.

"I have to remain optimistic," he said. "Hopefully, I can get better with rest. This is my livelihood. I have to stay positive."

Team trainers said several MRI exams performed over the summer indicated Mashburn had no cartilage remaining in the knee, causing the bones to grind together.

A former No. 1 pick by Dallas from Kentucky, Mashburn has endured an injury-plagued career that may have reached its nadir last season. After playing 19 games during the regular season, he was banished from the club during the playoffs for conduct detrimental to the team.

For his 11-year career, Mashburn has averaged 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists with Dallas, Miami and the Hornets.

Losing Mashburn is the latest setback for the Hornets. All-star guard Baron Davis has demanded a trade, the club has struggled to draw fans, and the Hornets are jumping to the more competitive Western Conference this season.

-- Greg Sandoval