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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Barkley Rockets Out of Phoenix

PHOENIX, Arizona -- The Houston Rockets' summer-long pursuit of Charles Barkley is over. The Phoenix Suns traded the star forward for four players. "I'm very excited,'' Barkley, vacationing in Philadelphia, told Phoenix television station KSAZ on Sunday. "Obviously it's something I wanted to do. Houston was my first priority.''


Under the deal, Houston will send point guard Sam Cassell and forwards Robert Horry, Mark Bryant and Chucky Brown to Phoenix. All four become free agents after this season.


"We're not going to deny it,'' Rockets spokesman Tim Frank said.


Barkley, 33, has two years left on his contract, which pays him $4.6 million next season. The combined salaries of the four Houston players are within the allowable 15 percent of Barkley's salary, bringing the reported deal into compliance with the league's salary-cap restrictions.


Brown told KTRH he had been contacted at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, by Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who told him Cassell and Horry were to go with him.


"Rudy called and said that I had to be part of it for the salary cap and stuff,'' he told the station. "It wasn't really a surprise because it's not like I never felt I would be traded.''


Cassell returned to Houston on Sunday from a charity basketball game in Memphis, Tennessee. "I know the Rockets wanted Charles to get here,'' Cassell told KRIV-TV in Houston. "Hopefully, [Houston] can regain another championship but I'm going to try to make it as hard as possible.''


Cassell said Robert Barr, Rockets vice president of basketball affairs, notified him of the trade.


"It's not like I'm a guy that can't play the game of basketball, and this is my last stop,'' Cassell told the station. "I'm going down to Phoenix and learn everything I can from Kevin [Johnson] before he retires. Then, I'll step right in when he retires, and it'll be my ballclub.''


Barkley's relationship with the Suns soured last season, and he has said he would retire if they didn't trade him to a contender. In an interview with NBC during the NBA finals in June, Barkley said Houston was among the teams he would consider joining.


Barkley said Sunday he was pleased with the way the deal had worked out. "I called the shots,'' he said of the trade. "When push comes to shove, I think you have to stand up to the system.''


The Rockets have aggressively pursued a deal for Barkley this summer. Rumors last month had Barkley going to Houston in a three-way deal that would have sent Horry and Cassell to Denver, and center Dikembe Mutombo to Phoenix.