You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Rockets beef up frontcourt with eye on Yao

- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Rockets acquired point guard Jonny Flynn and Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas in a trade with Minnesota during Thursday night's NBA draft and sent center Brad Miller and the 23rd pick to the Timberwolves.

Houston used its first-round pick, No. 14 overall, on Kansas forward Marcus Morris and its second-rounder, No. 38 overall, on Florida forward Chandler Parsons.

The 6-foot-9 Morris was drafted immediately after his twin older brother, Markieff, was taken by Phoenix at No. 13. Marcus Morris was named the Big 12 player of the year after averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 38 games for the Jayhawks in the 2010-11 season.

"I bring a lot of toughness to the game, a lot of energy," Morris said. "I feel that my presence is felt wherever I play. I'm a scorer and I can defend a lot of positions."

The Rockets had three weeks to prepare for the draft since hiring Kevin McHale to replace Rick Adelman, who parted ways with the team after four seasons.

Minnesota, where McHale formerly worked as vice president of basketball operations, selected the 7-foot Motiejunas with the 20th pick, setting the trade in motion. Motiejunas is playing his second season with the Italian club Benetton Treviso. He averaged 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and two steals in 30 regular-season games.

The Rockets then used the 23rd overall pick on Nikola Mirotic, a forward from Montenegro. Mirotic is in his first season with Real Madrid.

Houston initially sent the 38th overall pick to Minnesota, then bought it back to take the 6-9 Parsons, another forward.

The Rockets loaded up their frontcourt while the franchise mulls the future of Yao Ming. The top overall pick in 2002, the 7-foot-6 Yao is an unrestricted free agent and has been plagued with foot and leg injuries in recent years. He's played in only five games in the past two seasons.

The Rockets were glad to find a taker for Miller, who is due to make almost $10 million over the next two seasons. But the additions of Morris, Motiejunas and Parsons crowd the roster at the forward position, leaving McHale and Morey to make some decisions before the season begins.

Chuck Hayes, also a free agent, has played in 156 of 164 games over the past two seasons and Luis Scola has been a regular starter for the bulk of the last four years. Houston also drafted Patrick Patterson with the 14th pick last season, and picked up Jordan Hill in a trade with New York in February 2010.

Morris shot 57 percent from the field and topping 20 points in 12 games for Kansas last season. Parsons averaged 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 36 games for Florida.

The 235-pound Morris says he's open to slimming down and moving to a small forward spot, if that's what the Rockets need from him.

"I think I can just get in there and fit wherever they want me to play," Morris said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.