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Monday, August 9, 2004
Sura, Ward to compete with Lue news services

The Houston Rockets have yet to find a starting point guard, but they'll have enough bodies to hold quite a competition in training camp to finally find a replacement for Steve Francis.

Charlie Ward

Bob Sura

The Rockets signed Bob Sura, a shooting guard capable of playing the point, and fellow veteran Charlie Ward on Monday. The two will compete for playing time with Tyronn Lue, who was acquired from Orlando in the Francis-Tracy McGrady deal.

"Their experience and talent will help us a great deal," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said.

Sura, 31, was obtained by Atlanta in the Rasheed Wallace trade with Detroit and put up some impressive numbers. The 6-foot-4 combo guard averaged 14.7 points, 5.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds while starting 18 of 27 games for a depleted Hawks squad.

Ward, 33, began the 2003-04 season in New York and averaged 8.7 points and 4.9 assists before being included in the Stephon Marbury trade as part of Isiah Thomas' Knicks makeover. The Suns quickly waived Ward, who then signed with the Spurs.

Ward said he could fill the Rockets' need for a ball distributor.

"That's what the Rockets need with (7-foot-6 center) Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady here," he said. "I've played before with superstar guys ... give them the ball and get out of the way. I'm a pretty good team defender and I know coach Van Gundy likes that."

Sura said he thinks his defensive skills will fit in well.

"I also think my competitive nature and my toughness is really going to be an asset, something that I feel is kind of needed here," he said.

Ward may have the inside track at the Rockets' starting job. He played under head coach Jeff Van Gundy from 1995 to 2001, helping New York reach the NBA Finals in 1999. Last season, Van Gundy brought in another former Knick, Mark Jackson, to help run the Rockets' offense, which often became bogged down under Francis.

Ward said he knows his former coach's expectations.

"He likes the toughness, the competitiveness," Ward said. "This team can definitely win a championship. It is just a matter of everyone coming together."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.