June 28, 2007, 10:55PM
Rockets take Oregon's Brooks in first round

They did not concern themselves with their roster and its glut of players shorter than the general manager. They did not consider needs or positions. They put no weight in what was expected or where their first-round choice might have still been available.

They wanted Aaron's Brooks' explosive quickness, and as stunning a first-round pick as he was, when they had their turn in the NBA Draft at No. 26 on Thursday, they grabbed him.

``We like his speed, which in today's NBA we know works,'' Rockets director of scouting Dean Cooper said. ``If you look around the league at the point guards who has success lately (ellipses) in Tony Parker and T.J. Ford, Chris Paul, guys like that, speed with the no hand-checking rule, speed in those situations we think is valuable.

``With the way Coach (Rick) Adelman is going to play with open offense and seems and those types of things, we think speed is very valuable.''

As stunning as that pick was, however, the surprise of their next selection was that they had the draft pick at all.

They traded a future second-round pick and cash to the Seattle SuperSonics, who had Memphis' second-round pick, and then selected Purdue power forward Carl Landry. With their remaining pick, the 54th overall purchased from the Magic Thursday morning, the Rockets took 6-5 ½ shooting guard Brad Newley of Australia.

Landry, a 6-7 ¾, 248-pound All-Big Ten pick, averaged 18.9 points, and 7.3 rebounds last season. He was a good scorer in the paint with a mid-range jump shot, making 73.8 percent of his shots last season.

Unlike Brooks, Landry arrives on a roster shorthanded at his position, with Juwan Howard traded to Minnesota and Chuck Hayes a free agent. The Rockets will likely seek a veteran at the position and intend to sign Hayes, but Landry could not help but see an opportunity.

``I think I can bring a lot to the table,'' Landry said. ``I'm in a way like Chuck Hayes, but I can score. I averaged 19 points in college. I'm going to rebound the ball, dive on the floor for loose balls, take charges, do little things it takes. I'm not going to be called upon right away to score. You got Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady and those guys to do that. But I'm going to give the team a few extra possessions and try to win a championship this year.

``Juwan Howard got traded. It's a little thin in the frontline especially at the power forward position. I really feel I can come in right away and make an immediate impact.''

Brooks said he had been told to expect to be taken between the 21st and 35th picks, but generally not expected to go in the first round.

A first-team All-Pac 10 selection as a senior, Brooks averaged 17.7 points and 4.3 assists last season. He elevated his stock with his play at the Orlando predraft camp and in the Rockets workouts that followed.

The move, however, gives the Rockets a glut of bodies at point guard, with the pick and the acquisition of Mike James, along with holdovers Rafer Alston, Vassilis Spanoulis and John Lucas III.

Cooper, however, said that the Rockets did not concern themselves with where they could have possibly gotten Brooks later, choosing to take him when they got the chance.

``We don't always look at where a guy is forecasted. We try to do our board on the best player we think is available or the best fit for us or a special skill. We didn't give much thought to that. We said this guy has something that applies to a NBA game.

``We just wanted to take the guy we think can change an NBA game with what he does. We said we'll take the guy we think can best change our situation.''

Brooks sounded sure he can do that. And if others were surprised by the pick, to him it made perfect sense.

``My quickness,'' Brooks said of how he became a first-round pick. ``The NBA is becoming a quicker game. I guess that attracted teams in to picking me.

``(Adelman) said they were interested in my game. They wanted to push the ball a little bit more. If that's what they want, they got the right guy.''

They thought so, too, and that was the only consideration.

jonathan.feigen@chron.com

Posted by Third Eye