Rockets sign Bonzi Wells
Houston Rockets General Manager Carroll Dawson announced today that the team has signed free agent guard/forward Bonzi Wells to a multi-year contract. InsideHoops.com hears it's a two-year deal, with a player option for the second season. We haven't confirmed this as fact, yet.
"Bonzi is an excellent player that will add a lot of depth to our roster," said Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander. "To succeed in the Western Conference you have to have a deep roster and players that can play multiple positions. Bonzi is a proven player with six years of postseason experience in this league. Adding him next to Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and Shane Battier makes us a more complete team."
Wells (6-5, 210, Ball State) has averaged 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 490 games over his eight-year NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings. Last season with the Kings, Wells averaged 13.6 points, 2.8 assists and a career-high 7.7 rebounds in 52 outings. He scored 20-plus points in 11 games and had two 30-point performances. Wells also grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 12 games, finishing with a total of nine double-doubles. He had one of his best games of the season at Houston (11/2/05), pulling down a career-best 18 rebounds to go along with his 22 points. In the 2006 NBA Playoffs, Wells led the Kings in scoring (23.2 ppg) and rebounding (12.0 rpg) en route to picking up a double-double in five of the team's six playoff games. Wells recorded 25 points and a playoff-career-high 17 rebounds in a 102-84 win in Game Four vs. the Spurs (4/30/06). He added a game-high 38 points and a game-best 12 rebounds in Game Five at San Antonio (5/2/06).
"We like the flexibility Bonzi gives us," said Dawson. "Bonzi was one of the top free agents available this offseason and we think he's going to be a good fit with the roster we have assembled. We will be able to use his unique talents in many ways because he can play a variety of different positions on the floor."
Selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 11th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Wells' draft rights were then traded to Portland. In nearly six seasons with the Trail Blazers, Wells posted averages of 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 310 games. He enjoyed one of his finest statistical campaigns in 2001-02, averaging a career-high 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Trail Blazers. Wells was traded by Portland to Memphis for forward/guard Wesley Person and a 2004 first-round draft choice on Dec. 3, 2003. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 128 games with the Grizzlies. He joined the Kings from Memphis on Aug. 2, 2005, in a trade for center Greg Ostertag and guard Bobby Jackson.
As a collegian, Wells averaged 21.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.99 steals in 116 career games at Ball State University. Wells set the Mid-American Conference all-time scoring mark with 2,485 career points, surpassing the total previously held by Ron Harper (2,377 for Miami-Ohio). He became the first player in school history to amass 2,000 points and 700 rebounds (843). Wells also collected 347 career steals to rank first in MAC history for thefts. He earned MAC Player of the Year honors twice (1995-96, 1997-98) and was named to the All-MAC First Team in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
InsideHoops.com Editor Says: Wells adds big scoring punch to the Rockets and also rebounds in a big way from the shooting guard spot. Both of those skills take pressure off of Tracy McGrady on the offensive end. I'm assuming that Wells will start alongside McGrady, pushing Shane Battier to the bench. However, it's also possible Battier would start, with Wells being used the same way the Dallas Mavericks use Jerry Stackhouse. I hear Wells likely got word from the Rockets that he'd start or else he would have signed elsewhere. Which makes sense. So let's go with that. Wells is also terrific insurance in case T-Mac gets hurt yet again.