HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets waived forward Luis Scola on Friday, clearing more salary space with a major move in mind.
The one-time use of the amnesty clause allows Scola to leave without his remaining contract counting against the team's salary cap or luxury tax. Scola is due to make about $21 million over the next three seasons.
A fan favourite in Houston, the 6-foot-9 Scola averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Rockets. Scola grabbed 2,984 rebounds with the Rockets to rank ninth on the team's career list.
The Rockets have torn apart their 2011-12 roster as they reportedly push Orlando to send them All-Star centre Dwight Howard. Cutting Scola would allow Houston to absorb multiple undesirable contracts from Orlando in a potential deal.
Houston has been the most active team in the off-season, collecting assets and draft picks to build a package enticing enough to convince the Magic to trade Howard, a six-time All-Star and three-time defensive player of the year. On Tuesday, the Rockets completed a trade of point guard Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a lottery-protected first-round pick and a sign-and-trade deal that sent Marcus Camby to New York for two future second-round picks and three other players.
Before the draft, Houston traded forward Chase Budinger and centre Samuel Dalembert in separate deals that netted two first-round picks. The Rockets were reportedly shopping the picks to move up in the draft, but eventually used their three first-round draft picks as they stood on Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones.
Houston was also expected to sign Knicks guard Jeremy Lin and Bulls centre Omer Asik to offer sheets. Earlier in free agency, Asik agreed to a three-year, $25 million offer and Lin agreed to a four-year, $28 million offer. The Bulls and Knicks will have three days to match Houston's offers once the players sign them. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Tuesday that New York plan to retain Lin.
The 6-3 Lin was briefly in Rockets training camp before the lockout-shortened season began. Houston waived him because they had already had Lowry and Goran Dragic on their roster. Lin was claimed by the Knicks off waivers and he catapulted to stardom in New York, averaging 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 35 games with 25 starts before his season was cut short by a knee injury.
Dragic became an unrestricted free agent and signed a four-year, $30 million deal with Phoenix. Houston then turned its attention to reacquiring Lin and traded Lowry.
The 7-foot Asik was playing professionally in Turkey when he was picked by Portland in the second round of the 2008 draft and immediately traded to Chicago in a three-team deal. He played in 66 games last season, but only averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and one block per game. Asik helped Turkey earn the silver medal at the 2010 FIBA world championship.