"It is where I have wanted to be all along," Mutombo told the
Houston Chronicle on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he
is participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders-Africa
outreach program. "I told them a long time ago that it was my
wish, and I'm so happy that it was granted."
Mutombo thinks playing for Houston will be a "perfect fit,"
playing alongside starting center Yao Ming, the Chronicle reported
in its online edition Monday night. Mutombo told the newspaper he
agreed to the deal involving Eric Piatkowski, Adrian Griffin and
Mike Wilks on Friday. He said he had already talked to Rockets
assistant coach Patrick Ewing and others.
Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson told the Chronicle the
deal hasn't been finalized. But Dawson said Mutombo would be a good
mentor for Yao.
"One of the things that you want to do when you add a backup
center is add somebody with a real special talent who doesn't do
what everybody else does," Dawson said. "This is one of the
all-time shot blockers in the league. He's been a real professional
in the locker room and on the court. I think he'd be a great mentor
type for Yao Ming. I think he will be great for him to go against
in practice every day."
Rockets spokesman Nelson Luis told The Associated Press on
Monday night the team had no comment on the report.
Mutombo, a 7-foot-2 center, has averaged 11.7 points and 11.7
rebounds in his 13 seasons in the NBA. He was traded to the Bulls
in August as part of a deal that sent Jamal Crawford and Jerome
Williams to the New York Knicks.
"I've never had a problem, never had a question that I wanted
to play in Houston this season," Mutombo said. "It was first on
my list. Any why not?
"Look at the potential with Yao Ming and (Tracy) McGrady and
Jim Jackson. That is a very impressive start, and I think it is a
team that is ready to take off."