Mutombo would backup Yao

Updated: September 6, 2004, 11:45 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Veteran center Dikembe Mutombo said he has agreed to a trade that will send him from the Chicago Bulls to the Houston Rockets for three players.

Dikembe Mutombo
Chicago Bulls
65 5.6 6.7 0.4 .478 .681

"It is where I have wanted to be all along," Mutombo told the Houston Chronicle on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders-Africa outreach program. "I told them a long time ago that it was my wish, and I'm so happy that it was granted."

Mutombo thinks playing for Houston will be a "perfect fit," playing alongside starting center Yao Ming, the Chronicle reported in its online edition Monday night. Mutombo told the newspaper he agreed to the deal involving Eric Piatkowski, Adrian Griffin and Mike Wilks on Friday. He said he had already talked to Rockets assistant coach Patrick Ewing and others.

Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson told the Chronicle the deal hasn't been finalized. But Dawson said Mutombo would be a good mentor for Yao.

"One of the things that you want to do when you add a backup center is add somebody with a real special talent who doesn't do what everybody else does," Dawson said. "This is one of the all-time shot blockers in the league. He's been a real professional in the locker room and on the court. I think he'd be a great mentor type for Yao Ming. I think he will be great for him to go against in practice every day."

Rockets spokesman Nelson Luis told The Associated Press on Monday night the team had no comment on the report.

Mutombo, a 7-foot-2 center, has averaged 11.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in his 13 seasons in the NBA. He was traded to the Bulls in August as part of a deal that sent Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams to the New York Knicks.

"I've never had a problem, never had a question that I wanted to play in Houston this season," Mutombo said. "It was first on my list. Any why not?

"Look at the potential with Yao Ming and (Tracy) McGrady and Jim Jackson. That is a very impressive start, and I think it is a team that is ready to take off."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press