Rockets looking at options as draft looms

Jun 23 2010 - 8:59pm

HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets are leaving every option open on the eve of the NBA draft.

The Rockets have the 14th overall pick after going 42-40 last season, missing the playoffs for just the second time since 2003. They're listening to all offers and owner Leslie Alexander said Wednesday the scenarios are constantly evolving.

"There are so many different variables, and every hour, it changes," Alexander said. "General managers call, they want to do something with us. Then we call back and say, 'Yeah, we'll probably do that.' And then they say, 'No, we don't want to do that anymore.'

"And that's how it goes back and forth, over and over and over again, and you really don't know what you're going to do until the end."

The Rockets have a history of draft-night maneuvering since Daryl Morey took over as general manager in May 2007.

He hasn't used the team's own first-round pick since taking Aaron Brooks 26th overall in 2007, and he also swung a deal with Seattle that year to acquire productive forward Carl Landry.

In 2008, Morey orchestrated a deal that sent Nicolas Batum to Portland and landed Joey Dorsey in Houston. The Rockets made a deal with Memphis that night, acquiring the draft rights to forward Donte Greene, who was later part of the trade that brought Ron Artest to the Rockets for the 2008-09 season.

Houston had no picks in last year's draft, but bought three second-rounders to acquire guards Jermaine Taylor and Sergio Llull and forward Chase Budinger, who played significant minutes off the bench last season.

The Rockets think they've identified a pool of players who will be available when the No. 14 pick rolls around on Thursday night. They're also exploring what teams might be willing to pay for the pick.

"We feel like there might be some options to move up, might be some options to move back, might be some options to move out," vice president of player personnel Gersson Rosas said. "The board changes, it changes hour by hour, (because of) trades, rumors, players being in a position where you don't expect them to be. We've got to go through all the scenarios we can go through and prepare ourselves for how we're going to react."

Regardless of how the Rockets use the pick, Alexander thinks his team is well-positioned for next season.

All-Star center Yao Ming is expected to return to full strength after foot surgery, joining Brooks, Kevin Martin and Trevor Ariza in the starting lineup.

Alexander watched Yao practice on Wednesday, and said the center "looks great." Rosas said the draft is deep with big men, and the Rockets could use a center to back up Yao or at least match up with him in practice.

"To be in a situation where you're in the lottery where there are bigs on the board, you feel good about that," Rosas said. "There are also a lot of good wings, with high upside. That's why we feel like at 14, there is going to be a good player."

Power forward Luis Scola and backup guard Kyle Lowry are restricted free agents, but the Rockets say they'll match any offer to keep them.

"We have a very good team," Alexander said. "Daryl has done a great job of giving us great depth and a lot of very good players. We have a very good team, that's where we're at right now."


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