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[CHRON]Two trades make their point

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Davidoff, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. Davidoff

    Davidoff Contributing Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Feb. 24, 2005, 11:32PM
    Two trades make their point
    James to ease woes at guard; Taylor, contract dealt to Knicks
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    For the second consecutive season, Mike James will replace Bob Sura in an NBA rotation. The Rockets can only hope it will work out as well this time.

    With a flurry of trades to beat Thursday's 2 p.m. deadline, the Rockets acquired James from the Milwaukee Bucks, dumped forward Maurice Taylor and his bloated contract and reacquired point guard Moochie Norris from the New York Knicks along with former All-Star power forward and Olympian Vin Baker.

    But while Norris and Baker likely will see limited action off the bench, James is expected to provide a much-needed starting point guard while Sura recovers from a sore lower back.

    Last season, Detroit picked up James as part of a three-team trade-deadline deal that sent Sura to Atlanta. Sura then signed with the Rockets as a free agent and helped key the team's turnaround from its early-season struggles when he was rehabilitating after back surgery.

    James, 29, was in the Pistons' rotation through their title run and then signed a three-year, $10.2 million deal with the Bucks in August.

    The Rockets sent Milwaukee native Reece Gaines and second-round picks in 2006 and 2007 to the Bucks to get James. The Rockets then replaced one of those picks with a second-round pick in 2006 acquired in the deal with the Knicks.

    "He's an exciting player," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said of James. "I think he can make the spot-up 3. He's explosive as all get out off the pick-and-roll. He's very quick to the paint. He's a good defender right now. I think Jeff (Van Gundy) and the coaching staff will make him much better. He has the physical strength and the quickness to be good at both ends."

    Although Dawson said "Sura is having a great year," the Rockets were interested in James long before Sura's injury. They looked at James when he was a free agent last summer and were minutes from completing a December trade for him in which they would have given up Bostjan Nachbar and Gaines.

    "When he was in Detroit, I really noticed what he meant to the team," Dawson said. "If you talk to the teams he's been to, they always miss him after he leaves.

    "I liked Mike James for a long time. You look at these guys, who fits, who will make things go with the talent you have. You like the quickness. You like the toughness. You like the 3-point shooting. There's a lot of things to like with this guy."

    With the acquisition of James, the Rockets moved Sura to the injured list and waived veteran point guard Rod Strickland, who started the past two games with Sura out.

    To make the deal work financially, the Rockets sent the trade exception left over from the Steve Francis-Tracy McGrady deal and the second-round picks to Milwaukee for James, and Gaines to the Bucks for center Zendon Hamilton, whom they released.

    The Rockets still have $2.3 million of that trade exception remaining, potentially allowing them to trade a draft pick for a player earning as much as $2.3 million. But there is only a small window in which to spend it with trades not allowed after Thursday's deadline through the end of the season. The exception expires June 29.

    James is averaging 11.4 points per game, making 44.6 percent of his shots and 38 percent from the 3-point line. Gaines, 24, acquired with McGrady from Orlando, played in only 10 games this season. Strickland, 38, was unable to gain the form of his prime, averaging only 1.8 points on 20.9-percent shooting.

    By trading Taylor — who has been on the injured list since Jan. 18 even though he has said he was fully recovered for several weeks — the Rockets added depth at point guard while Sura and Charlie Ward rehabilitate injuries. The move also will relieve them of their most onerous contract burden a year early.

    Taylor, 28, who has averaged 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds this season, is due $18.85 million over the next two seasons. After signing as a free agent in 2000, he averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds with the Rockets.

    Norris, 31, has one more season — worth $4.2 million — left on the contract he signed with the Rockets, with the team holding an option for an additional season. The contract for Baker, 33, includes one more season, at his option, worth $3.85 million.

    With the contracts of Baker, Norris and Clarence Weatherspoon, 34, whom the Rockets acquired from the Knicks last season for Norris, all ending after next season, the Rockets will be in a considerably better position to maneuver next season and the following offseason. The added flexibility becomes even more important with Yao Ming eligible for a new contract beginning in 2006-07.

    "The salary cap is always a problem, it hinders you from doing just about anything," Dawson said. "Any time you can do anything to get salary-cap relief, this year or in the future, that's a big plus.

    "(Baker) has got a very heralded background. Sometimes a change can revive a guy. We'll see. I think the opportunity is here."

  2. Man

    Man Contributing Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Likes Received:
    lol..CD: I think he can shoot the 3. :)

    So Sura will be back in 2 weeks right?

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