Wells tells team trainer he's disrupting chemistry
SEATTLE -- Bonzi Wells' trying first season with the Houston Rockets took a strange turn on Monday night when the veteran guard didn't join his team for their game against the Seattle SuperSonics, a 95-90 victory.
Wells was not with the team during their walkthrough on Monday morning and wasn't in the arena before the game, coach Jeff Van Gundy said. Wells left a voice message for Rockets' athletic trainer Keith Jones saying he felt he was disrupting the chemistry of the team, and Van Gundy was unable to get in touch with Wells.
"He's not here tonight. I don't know where he's at. I haven't talked to him," Van Gundy said. "I want to make sure he's safe first."
On the message, Wells told Jones he was fine and intended on staying in his room. That was before the Rockets' walkthrough and Jones had not spoken with him since.
"Once I know he's all right, then we'll take whatever the next step is," Van Gundy said. "We want to make sure he's all right first."
Wells played five minutes in Sunday night's 112-106 win over Sacramento, but asked out of the game, Van Gundy said. He played 23 minutes in the Rockets' loss in Portland on Friday, the first time he was activated in 18 games.
Wells' departure comes after the Rockets rebounded from a three-game losing streak, using a strong second half to beat Sacramento on Sunday night. The win pulled the Rockets within a half game of Utah for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
"Nah, it's not a distraction because we don't know what's going on," Rockets' All-Star Tracy McGrady said.
The game in Sacramento was Wells' return to the team where he averaged 13.6 points in 52 games last season. He was the Kings' best player in their first-round playoff matchup against San Antonio, averaging 23.2 points in the six-game series.
But Wells botched his free agency last summer when he turned down a long-term, $38.5 million offer from the Kings. Every NBA opening soon filled, and Wells had to settle for a comparatively tiny deal in Houston, where he has flopped.
Wells was averaging 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds, playing in just 28 games. He was inactive for 18 of the Rockets' first 20 games, did not play in three games in December and early January, then was inactive for another seven games with a sore lower back.
Wells played sparingly in late January and February, his best game coming on Feb. 26 when he scored a season-high 27 points and played 37 minutes in a 77-72 loss to lowly Boston. He went back on the inactive list March 2 and missed the next 18 games, the first 10 with a sore right foot.
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. Van Gundy had problems with Wells' attitude earlier in the season, but said it had improved.
"He's been great. He played four or five minutes last night and asked to come out. That was more frustration I guess. I can't really tell you," Van Gundy said. "I don't have any answers. I hope that he's safe and we'll go from there."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press