Rockets pull surprise, draft Oregon's Brooks

HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets drafted Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks with the 26th pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, a surprising move two weeks after the team acquired Mike James.

Later Thursday, the Rockets acquired Purdue forward Carl Landry by trading a future second-round pick and cash to Seattle for the 31st pick.

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 all-time in school history in assists (471), sixth in steals (127) and shot 83 percent from the free-throw line in his career.

Dean Cooper, the Rockets' director of scouting, said Brooks showed impressive quickness in a workout with the team.

"We like his speed which we know, in today's NBA, works," Cooper said. "If you look around the league at the point guards who've had success lately and how it's changed the game, in Tony Parker and T.J. Ford and Chris Paul, we think it's valuable."

The Rockets lost to Utah in the first round of the playoffs, partly because Deron Williams outplayed Rafer Alston, Houston's starting point guard the last two seasons.

"We're going to move forward," Cooper said. "Obviously, Aaron's young. He's going to have to learn the NBA game. We just wanted to take the guy we think can change an NBA game ... That's kind of what we're focused on."

Houston went 52-30 last season, but the first-round loss 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.

Adelman talked to Brooks on the phone moments after the draft pick was announced.

"I'm ecstatic to be going to Houston," Brooks said. "They have a good team. I'm looking forward to getting there."

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."

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.

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.

Earlier Thursday, the Rockets acquired the 54th overall pick from Orlando for cash.

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