HOUSTON, OCT. 15 -- Ralph Sampson, after spending the offseason talking about testing the free agent market, signed a six-year agreement with the Houston Rockets today that will pay him $12 million, team officials said.
The Rockets now have their Twin Towers under long-term contracts. Akeem Olajuwon signed a 12-year contract last season that pays him an average of $2.5 million per year.
"I don't think I have anything to prove to anybody but myself, and the only thing I have to prove to myself is to go out and play basketball," Sampson said.
". . . I'm looking forward to the upcoming season and winning the championship. It's time to go to work now."
The contract agreement ended seven months of negotiations with Sampson's agent, Gene Perry.
"I figured it would be done sooner or later," Sampson said. "I'm happy with the contract and I'm glad I'll be playing basketball here."
Sampson, a native of Harrisonburg, Va., earlier had expressed interest in returning to the East Coast, and added that "everybody knows I love the East Coast. It's going to be my resting place in later years."
Now he says he'll stay in Houston.
He had been contacted by the Washington Bullets and several other NBA teams. Attempts to reach Sampson or Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry were unsuccessful today. One Bullets official said any talks between the team and Sampson could only be called preliminary.
Sampson said in an interview with the Charlottesville Daily Progress he met with Rockets owner Charlie Thomas last weekend but that he had not reached an agreement with the club.
"They asked me if I liked Houston and I told them yes, but other than that the talks were very basic," he said. "I don't have any hard feelings, but they've taken a long time to sign me."
Today, Thomas said, "The only thing to be determined was if Ralph wanted to be here. When we determined that, we wanted to make sure he did come back."
Sampson, a University of Virginia graduate, suffered through an injury-marred year with the Rockets last season, missing 39 regular season games because of ankle injuries and arthroscopic knee surgery.
Sampson was selected to the NBA all-star team for the West but did not play because of his knee injury. He got a pro career-low 372 rebounds and averaged 15.6 points per game, also a career low.