MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached an agreement to trade point guard Mike James to the Houston Rockets for power forward Juwan Howard.
James' agent, Bill Duffy, said Wednesday night the teams have been working for several weeks on a deal to move James after one disappointing season in Minnesota. Both the Wolves and the Rockets declined to comment about the trade Wednesday night.
The deal was first reported by TV station KRIV in Houston and the Houston Chronicle. James played 26 games for the Rockets in the 2004-05 season.
Duffy said he was told the deal would likely be completed on Thursday, and that it could have additional parts. Houston was bidding against Minnesota last summer when James was a prized free agent. The Wolves got him instead for a four-year, $23 million contract.
"It's interesting how things work out," Duffy said, adding that James and his wife have been planning to build a house in the Houston area. "He's ecstatic."
After averaging 20.3 points per game during the 2005-06 season with Toronto, James never found a steady role on a struggling team that was overrun with point guards and saw his scoring average drop to 10.1.
"Maybe this will be good for both sides," James told the Star Tribune in a story posted Wednesday night on the newspaper's Web site. "You know, it's tough. Change is always tough. But, for me, it's like going back home."
After an under-the-radar college career at Duquesne, James became the ultimate basketball journeyman by playing in Austria, France and the CBA as well as Miami, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston and Toronto once he finally broke into the NBA.
The pinnacle of his career was last summer, when Dallas, Houston and Minnesota were all heavily pursuing him in a thin free-agent market. Wolves star Kevin Garnett even called with a recruiting pitch.
The season didn't go so well, though. James found himself fighting for time on the court with rookie Randy Foye, while the Timberwolves fired Dwane Casey and had a handful of players confused and frustrated about where they fit on a team loaded with so-so talent and bloated contracts.
With three years left on his deal, trading James was a first move toward Minnesota's expected overhaul of the roster.
Howard, a 13-year veteran, averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Houston last season. He's 34, but he can fill a need in the frontcourt for a savvy defender and reliable rebounder. This is Howard's sixth team since leaving the University of Michigan in 1994.