Alston dealt to Magic
Orlando satisfies point guard need
The Houston Rockets traded point guard Rafer Alston to Orlando and acquired Magic forward Brian Cook and Memphis guard Kyle Lowry yesterday at the trade deadline.
Memphis also received center Adonal Foyle, guard Mike Wilks, and the Magic's first-round pick.
The three-team swap came one day after Rockets star Tracy McGrady announced on his website that he'll have season-ending microfracture surgery on his troublesome left knee.
The Magic, meanwhile, needed an experienced point guard after All-Star Jameer Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Feb. 2. He had surgery yesterday.
The 6-foot-2-inch Alston practiced with the Rockets yesterday but left before the session was opened to the media. He was averaging 11.5 points and 5.4 assists this season and had 24 assists in Houston's last two games, both victories.
The Rockets are 33-21, second in the Southwest Division, but sixth in the Western Conference.
The loss of Alston likely pushes Aaron Brooks into the starting point guard role. Brooks is averaging 10.3 points and 2.6 assists in 52 games, but he's made only seven starts.
Alston was due to make $4.9 million this season and $5.25 million next season, the last of his contract with Houston. The Rockets acquired him in an October 2005 trade with Toronto.
The move reunites Alston with coach Stan Van Gundy, who led Miami when Alston played for the Heat in 2003-04. Alston played for Jeff Van Gundy, Stan's brother, in his first two seasons with the Rockets.
"It's great to go to a team that wants you," Alston told Houston television station KRIV. "It's an honor and privilege to go to a team that is willing to trade something to get you."
The 6-foot Lowry is averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 assists in 49 games. The former Villanova star was the Grizzlies' first-round pick in the 2006 draft.
The 6-9 Cook is averaging 3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 21 games.
The deal was the highlight of the day as Shaquille O'Neal and all the other big names rumored to be on the trading block stayed put.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were among the suitors that reportedly reached out to Phoenix to inquire about O'Neal, but they couldn't close a deal for him or any other big man they sought to battle defending NBA champion Boston.
The Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire and the New Jersey Nets' Vince Carter headlined the stars whose names had gone through the rumor mill in recent weeks but went nowhere, with teams having to balance a player's impact on the court with his effect on the salary cap.
"If anybody hasn't figured out that the economy is hitting every company in the country and in the world, they're not very bright," Dallas owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday.