Rockets Land Maurice Taylor

The Houston Rockets signed former Los Angeles Clippers forward Maurice Taylor to a one-year contract Friday.

Taylor signed for the midlevel salary-cap exception of $2.5 million.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Taylor spent his first three NBA seasons with the Clippers, where he averaged 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds. He was a first-round draft choice out of Michigan in 1997.

"When it came down to it, I felt that Houston was the best place for me," Taylor said during a news conference Friday. "Houston needed another presence in the post, to help guys out on the perimeter. One thing I want to do is win basketball games. With guys like Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, we can win championships."

If a four-team trade that was in the works earlier this week went through, Taylor would not have joined the Rockets.

In what would have been the largest trade in NBA history, the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle SuperSonics and Detroit Pistons discussed sending Patrick Ewing to Seattle, Glen Rice and Vin Baker to New York, and Christian Laettner and Chris Dudley to Los Angeles. The Pistons would have received several lesser-caliber players, draft picks and cash.

But the Pistons backed out and the deal collapsed.

Had the trade gone through, the Sonics were set to sign Taylor for the midlevel salary-cap exception.

"Talking to Steve (Francis) and Cuttino (Mobley) showed me this is where I belong," Taylor said.

The Orlando Magic were also interested in Taylor, who was anxious to leave the Clippers, but a deal was not worked out.

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