Hornets talking about getting Rockets' Wells, James

Updated: February 20, 2008, 7:52 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

Every top team in the Western Conference has made a significant move this season. Every team, that is, except the one at the very top.

Well, that may be about to end. The New Orleans Hornets are on the verge of making their move.

Sources have told ESPN.com that the Hornets and Houston Rockets were in serious discussions Wednesday night on a multi-player deal that would send Mike James and Bonzi Wells to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson and one or two other players.

Different variations of the deal were still being worked on as of early Wednesday evening, but the deal appeared to have a better than 50-50 chance of going through, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks.

Of the top six teams in the Western Conference (based upon the standings entering Wednesday night's games), only the Hornets have not made a significant move. Phoenix acquired Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol, Utah acquired Kyle Korver, San Antonio signed Damon Stoudamire and Dallas traded for Jason Kidd.

The Rockets, tied with Denver for seventh in the West, also have not made any big moves.

The proposed Rockets-Hornets deal would give New Orleans two veteran scorers, and a little more size with Bells, off the bench. The Hornets also remain interested in re-signing forward Chris Andersen if his drug banishment is lifted by the NBA, although the wheels are turning slowly on his application for reinstatement. New Orleans also has reached out to unsigned free agent veteran P.J. Brown.

This trade makes sense for the Rockets because they can get out from under James' contract, which runs through 2009-10. James, who logged a total of only 39 minutes in the past 25 games, is due to make $6 million next season and has a player option for $6.4 million the following season, while Wells ($2.3 million) comes off the books after this season.

Jackson has one year remaining at $6.1 million, and the Hornets have also been trying to move Rasual Butler, who is due $3.6 and $3.9 over the next two years. It would make sense that New Orleans would try to include him in this trade, although one source indicated that Butler's inclusion was a possible sticking point because of the luxury tax implications for the Rockets.