Basketball: Rockets to jettison Olajuwon

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The Independent Online
HAKEEM OLAJUWON, the Houston Rockets centre and 12 times an NBA All-Star player, could be traded to the Toronto Raptors for two players and two first-round draft picks.

Olajuwon, the Rockets' most celebrated player in a 15-year NBA career, led them to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. Trades cannot be made until 1 August, so the Raptors would have to select players on the Rockets' behalf during today's NBA draft.

Houston would acquire the Raptors' two first-round selections, the fifth pick - acquired from Denver - and the 12th pick. The Raptors also would send former Rockets centre-forward Kevin Willis and Doug Christie to Houston.

The Rockets, who have the No 22 pick in the first round, hope to move up in the draft. The No. 5 pick would be the team's highest since they selected Olajuwon first overall in 1984.

By trading Olajuwon, Houston would begin rebuilding in the wake of consecutive first-round play-off defeats. The deal could affect Charles Barkley, who is considering retirement and said he wanted to return only if the Rockets were title contenders.