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After coming to a verbal agreement on July 19, Memphis Grizzlies free agent forward Stromile Swift officially became a member of the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 2nd. The Rockets’ got the man they targeted for this offseason, despite strong advances from the New Jersey Nets and the Seattle SuperSonics. A five-year veteran of the NBA, Swift brings averages of 9 points and 5 rebounds a game, as well as a much-needed dose of youth and athleticism to a ballclub in dire need of those traits.

“It was an easy decision for me, “ Swift said when asked about his choice of Houston as a destination. “To be apart of this organization, I’m excited. I’m really happy and my family’s happy.”

The second overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft by the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, Swift has mostly been a bench player throughout his professional career, starting only seventy out of a total of 352 games. However, it was his energy, youth and athleticism that made the Rockets pursue the 6’9”, 230-pound power forward, and the possibility of disrupting the chemistry of last year’s close-knit team proved to be unfounded.

“If you have a race out there (on the court), he may win the race,” Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said. “He’s very athletic for his size. Our chemistry was excellent last year. I think this will do nothing but add to it.”

Exclusive Rockets.com Q &A Session With Swift

The Rockets’ pursuit of Swift as the apple of their eye began early July, as soon as negotiations between teams and free agents could start. Along with the idea of playing only a three-hour car drive from home, Swift, a lifelong Rockets fan and graduate of Louisiana State University, was also won over by Rockets guard Tracy McGrady’s personal recruitment of him.

“Tracy sent me a text message and told me how nice it would be if I came here,” Swift said with a smile. “That was a big part of it (the decision).”

At only 25 years old, Swift still has room to grow. His athleticism allows him to take advantage of rebounding and scoring off putbacks. He also has a nice medium-range jump shot that will allow him to be successful in the Rockets’ halfcourt game as well. Yet fans come to see a show, and with his assortment of rim-rattling dunks and monster blocks, “The Stro Show”, as he has so often been referred to, is ready to blastoff as a Rocket.

“Hopefully I can come in here and bring my game and take them to the next level,” Swift said. “I can bring some excitement, athleticism. I’ll be here for the fans.”

Rockets officials are just as enamored with the running game that the acquisition of Swift encourages. In an era of high-scoring, athletic and long basketball players, Dawson appears ready to bring a new look for Houston Rockets basketball.

“This guy can really be something special,” Dawson said. “He can bring you out of your seat.”