Friday, December 9, 2011
Luis Scola, Kevin Martin report
HOUSTON -- Kevin Martin and Luis Scola joined the Houston Rockets for their first full practice Friday, hours after the NBA nixed a three-way trade that would have sent them to New Orleans and brought Pau Gasol to town.
Hornets star Chris Paul was headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Rockets backup point guard Goran Dragic and L.A. forward Lamar Odom would've moved to New Orleans in the deal.
The NBA rejected the proposed trade for what it termed "basketball reasons," leaving Martin, Scola and Dragic to report to training camp with a team that was apparently ready to send them away.
The easy-going Scola took it all in stride, saying he had "no hard feelings" toward Houston or general manager Daryl Morey.
"They had a trade that they believed was good for the team, and they tried to do it," Scola said. "That's nothing to blame them for. And I'm happy to stay here."
Martin, the Rockets' leading scorer in 2010-11, seemed a bit more upset.
"Daryl (Morey) showed his cards, and you've just got to put your teammates first and nothing else after that," he said. "I'm just worried about my teammates. I'm out here with them, and that's it."
Martin averaged 23.5 points in his first full season with the team. He joined the Rockets in a three-team deal in February 2010 that sent Tracy McGrady to the New York Knicks.
The 6-foot-7 Martin said he didn't have a chance to talk to Morey on Friday morning about the voided on the previous night.
"Everybody's looking to improve the team," Martin said. "He (Morey) felt like that was the way to improve the team, more power to him and the organization. At the end of the day, if you're still on the team, you've got to come in here and act like a professional and help the team get better.
"They run the show," Martin said. "I'm just here to play, so I really don't have any questions for anybody."
Morey was unavailable for comment on Friday.
Coach Kevin McHale, hired in June, met with all three players individually before the 3-hour practice. McHale wouldn't offer details of the ruined deal, but shared his basic message to the jilted players.
"Not awkward at all," McHale said. "I'm going to tell you guys the same thing I told them -- curl up in a ball, or go fight. Those are your two options.
"I said, 'Fellas, you'll make that decision. I can't make that decision. I can't play anymore,'" he said. "They made that decision, and they had tremendous practices."
After their individual meetings, McHale met with the trio together, then assembled the entire team for a meeting.
"We talked about some stuff, and we talked about adversity and we talked about the things that happened," McHale said. "Is it hard? Yeah. Was I very impressed and proud that those guys came out and just gave a great effort? Yeah, you're doggone right. It shows that they're pros, it shows that they care, it shows that they've got some character.
"In this league, if you don't have any character, you don't have any toughness, you aren't winning anything significant," McHale said. "Those guys showed they had that."
Scola, who's played four seasons in Houston, was the leading rebounder (8.2 per game) and second-leading scorer (18.3 ppg) last year.
He joked with reporters at how rapidly everything changed on Thursday night.
"At some point, it was kind of funny," Scola said. "People calling me like this was happening, and I didn't even know it was happening, I didn't have confirmation. (Then), the same people were calling me, saying, 'Forget what I said. You're staying.' It was a lot of people calling me, like I was dying.
"The good thing is I'm prepared for everything now. After last night, I know that anything can happen."
In the wake of the big deal falling apart, the Rockets missed out on re-signing sturdy forward Chuck Hayes, their only unrestricted free agent. The 6-foot-6 Hayes agreed to a four-year deal with Sacramento.
Hayes was Houston's last-resort option to play center while Yao Ming sat out with injuries. He was the Rockets' second-leading rebounder (8.1 per game) last season and frustrating taller players with his strong lower body and stingy defense.
"He was a great teammate and a great guy," Scola said. "I'm happy for him. It's a great opportunity for him."