Rockets aren't expecting immediate help from draft Print
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Tuesday, 26 June 2007 22:20
NBA Headline News

 HOUSTON (AP) -New coaching staff? Check. New point guard? Check.
Next on Houston's wish list is a power forward with scoring punch, though Daryl Morey doesn't expect to plug that hole Thursday in his first draft as Rockets general manager.
The Rockets have only one pick, the 26th, and Morey expects the choice to be a project instead of someone who will contribute significantly next season.
``It's completely 'best player available,''' Morey said. ``We don't really see any player, even if they're more ready to play, helping us next year, at (No.) 26. They're not someone who we're planning to have on the floor in any significant way next year.''
Morey said the Rockets aren't likely to make a trade and move up in the draft order. He said the Rockets plan to make their pick, then scan the free-agent market for immediate help.
NBA teams can begin contacting free agents July 1.
``It's hard to know how quick or slow it will move,'' Morey said. ``We haven't 100 percent finished our planning there. It's very hard right now to anticipate how it will go.''
Last year, the Rockets drafted Rudy Gay with the eighth pick, then traded him and Stromile Swift to Memphis for Shane Battier. Battier was a key addition who helped Houston go 52-30, an 18-win improvement from the previous season.
But the younger, deeper Utah Jazz exposed Houston's other deficiencies in the playoffs. The Jazz won the first-round series in seven games, outrebounding the Rockets in the final two games and forcing an average of 15 turnovers.
The Rockets fired coach Jeff Van Gundy, hired Rick Adelman and traded Juwan Howard to Minnesota for point guard Mike James. The acquisition of James clouds the status of Rafer Alston, the Rockets' starting point guard the past two seasons. Alston was an inconsistent perimeter shooter last season and was outplayed by Utah's Deron Williams in the postseason.
``The whole key to building a team that's going to compete in the upper echelons is to keep adding pieces that are going to make you better,'' Adelman said. ``If guys understand that the more pieces you have, you spread it around and that's what wins. If the guys buy into that, it's a plus for everybody.''
Chuck Hayes played power forward last season, but at 6-foot-6, he was often overmatched by taller players. Howard was Hayes' backup.
One intriguing possibility to bolster the frontcourt next year is 6-9, 265-pound Lior Eliyahu, an Israeli player acquired in a trade with Orlando in last year's draft. Morey said Eliyahu arrived Tuesday and will play with the Rockets' summer league team.
``He has the potential to be on the roster,'' Morey said.
The Rockets solidified their backcourt Monday when versatile but temperamental Bonzi Wells exercised his option to return next season.
The 6-5 Wells hardly played last season because of injuries and a rift with Van Gundy. His decision to return was no doubt influenced by the coaching change - Wells had one of his most productive seasons under Adelman in Sacramento the year before he signed with Houston as a free agent.
``He's really focused to show Rockets fans what he can do,'' Morey said. ``He doesn't feel like he did that last year. He knows he played a big role in why that didn't happen. I think he's got a very good attitude, and he was excited to opt in. We think he'll help us next year.''
All the moves, of course, are aimed at building around All-Stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, both still lacking a playoff series victory. Morey said he feels an urgency to make the team better while Yao and McGrady are in their primes.
``I feel like our window is long,'' Morey said. ``That said, before you know it, the window's over, too. Every year, we're trying to improve the club and get closer to winning a title.''

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