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Wells spurns big deals to join Rockets; Padgett signs

HOUSTON -- Bonzi Wells could've taken a richer, long-term
contract to play in another city.

Bonzi Wells Wells

The free agent chose the Houston Rockets, sacrificing dollars
for what he believes is a chance to play on a championship-caliber
team.

"You look at their talent level, they should've been better
last year," Wells said Monday after passing a physical.
"Hopefully, I can be a part of them making that next step -- not
only making the playoffs, but making a serious run. They have all
the ingredients."

This summer, Wells turned down a five-year, $36 million offer
from Sacramento, where he played last season. His contract with
Houston will pay him $2.1 million in this season and give him the
option to become a free agent after that.

"I could've got a whole lot of money anywhere," Wells said.
"I just want to be in a good situation where I can go for a
championship."

"I could've got a whole lot of money anywhere. I just want to be in a good situation where I can go for a championship. "
-- Bonzi Wells

The 6-foot-5 Wells averaged 13.6 points, 2.8 assists and 7.7
rebounds for the Kings in 2005-06, his eighth NBA season. He
averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds in their first-round playoff
loss to San Antonio.

Wells figures to help an offense that averaged just over 90
points, second worst in the NBA.

"Bonzi is a proven scorer," said new Rocket Shane Battier, who
played with Wells in Memphis. "He's a guy you can throw it to him
on the block and he'll create mismatches, foul opportunities and
shots. He's a guy the other teams have to prepare for, and you can
never have too many of those on your team."

Wells' career has been dotted with suspensions, and he clashed
with two of his previous coaches -- Maurice Cheeks in Portland and
Mike Fratello in Memphis.

Battier said Wells is a team player and a nice fit for the
Rockets.

"We always got along," Battier said. "He's fiery, he's
passionate, he's a competitor. He'll be a good addition to this
team."

Wells could immediately start in the backcourt with point guard
Rafer Alston. He's also content to come off the bench.

Either way, he should draw defenses away from Houston's All-Star
duo, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Both players battled injuries last
season as the Rockets missed the playoffs a year after pushing
Dallas to seven games in a riveting first-round series.

"I've never played with guys of this magnitude -- a really big
big man and a guy on the wing who can really do everything," Wells
said. "I just want to go in, do my job well and try to fit in. I
understand I'm going to have a lot of nights where it's my night
and a lot of nights where it's their night."

Scott Padgett Padgett

The Rockets also signed forward Scott Padgett on Monday,
completing their training camp roster. The 6-9 Padgett played for
the Rockets between 2003-05 before signing with New Jersey last
season. He was waived by the Nets in June.

"It feels like a fresh start, but at the same time, I know the
system and I know a lot of the guys," said Padgett, the sixth
former Kentucky player acquired by the Rockets in the past year.

Padgett will be one of three former Wildcats at training camp,
joining Kelenna Azubuike and Chuck Hayes. Former Kentucky stars
Derek Anderson, Gerald Fitch and Keith Bogans played for the
Rockets at some point last season.

"A lot of the guys from Kentucky over the years are guys who
work hard and play well in systems," Padgett said. "That's
something that maybe you look at as a coach and you say, 'This
guy's played in a system before, let's see if he can flourish in
this one."'