After weeks of speculation that the Houston Rockets may sign free agent Moses Malone or trade for Sacramento power foward Otis Thorpe, General Manager Ray Patterson now is backing away from both moves.

Patterson decided against a trade after traveling to Youngstown, Ohio, for a meeting with Thorpe's agent, Phyllis Freed, who wants a financial package Houston cannot provide because of salary-cap limitations."We followed every possible lead and did all the research we could," Patterson said Friday. "But there has to be some give on the other side. I found myself over-reaching. At the present time, the asking price is too much."

The NBA trade for Thorpe initially was thought to involve Rockets players Rodney McCray and Jim Petersen. But to meet Freed's asking price, the Rockets would have to make a preliminary trade, presumably involving center Joe Barry Carroll for draft considerations.