Rockets draft Oregon's Brooks; pick up Landry in trade
HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets drafted what they saw as the best available player in the first round on Thursday night, even though they're already stocked at the position.
The Rockets drafted Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks with the 26th pick, a surprising move two weeks after the team acquired point guard Mike James.
General manager Daryl Morey said Brooks was simply too good to pass up.
"He brings a speed and a quickness and an ability to get to the (free-throw) line," Morey said. "Guys who can shoot and then also have the quickness of him are really unguardable in the league right now."
Later, the Rockets acquired Purdue forward Carl Landry by trading a future second-round pick and cash to Seattle for the 31st pick. Houston took Australian Brad Newley -- another guard -- with the 54th overall pick, acquired from Orlando for cash earlier in the day.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Brooks was the Pac-10's leading scorer last season and finished his career as the Ducks' ninth all-time scorer (1,511 points). He ranks fourth in school history in assists (471), sixth in steals (127) and shot 83 percent from the free-throw line in his career.
The Rockets acquired James two weeks ago. For now, they also still have Rafer Alston, the starting point guard the last two seasons, and reserves Luther Head and John Lucas III, who also saw time at the position last season.
Morey said Brooks brings "a different skill set than what we have." He added that the Rockets are ready to make more moves.
"There will be competition for minutes," Morey said, "and then we'll have to reconcile the roster over the summer."
Dean Cooper, the Rockets' director of scouting, compared Brooks to Tony Parker, T.J. Ford and Chris Paul, all undersized, but quick-footed point guards. Cooper said Brooks has "some NBA-type shots" -- floaters and runners in the lane -- that will make him an effective penetrator.
"The guy's ability to change directions and speeds and create separation is very, very good," Cooper said.
Brooks was surprised the Rockets picked him -- he didn't think his workout in Houston went well.
"It wasn't one of my best," he said. "I was kind of wondering what they thought of me. But they've seen what I could do in college and they watched a couple of my games."
Brooks averaged 18 points and 4.3 assists per game last season. The Ducks reached the regional finals of the NCAA tournament before they were ousted by eventual national champion Florida.
"I'm just ecstatic to be going to Houston," Brooks said.
The Rockets went 52-30 last season, but their first-round playoff loss to Utah led to the firing of Coach Jeff Van Gundy. Rick Adelman was hired five days later and the Rockets traded Juwan Howard to Minnesota on June 14 for James, a six-year veteran.
Minutes after Cooper spoke to reporters, the Rockets nabbed Landry, a 6-7, 245-pound power forward who was Purdue's leading scorer (19 points) and rebounder (7.3 per game) last season.
Like Brooks, Landry also worked out with the Rockets and was glad they picked him.
"It was something about the Rockets the minute I got off the airplane to work out in Houston," Landry said. "I like the coaching staff and everything about the Houston Rockets organization. I'm just really excited about playing for them."
Morey admitted he doesn't expect any of the picks to heavily contribute next season. He said the Rockets' draft doesn't change Morey's plan to scour free agency to fill the Rockets' immediate needs.
"That was the plan, before and after, no matter who we picked today," Morey said. "We're not sure what we're going to be able to do. We're always looking to improve. I feel like we've got a lot of new acquisitions on the team right now. We're looking for more."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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