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News » Grizzlies acquire Francis

Grizzlies acquire Francis

Grizzlies acquire Francis
How about this for a Christmas Eve stocking stuffer?

The Grizzlies consummated a trade with the Houston Rockets that will bring veteran guard Steve Francis , a 2009 second-round pick and cash considerations to Memphis.

All the Griz gave up Wednesday afternoon was a conditional 2011 second-round pick that is protected through the 55th overall selection. The Griz get the pick they sent along with the draft rights to Donte Greene (28th overall pick) in exchange for forward Darrell Arthur (27th) in last June's draft-day trade.

"We get our pick back. We make some money off it. And we'll get a shot at a vet and see what happens," Griz general manager Chris Wallace said.

Houston was motivated to avoid luxury tax payments in a quest to add another player - presumably Dikembe Mutombo - and will do so by subtracting Francis from the roster. Francis earns $2.64 million this season. However, the contract expires in June, meaning the Griz won't lose any of their projected $19-21 million in salary-cap space for the 2009 free-agent period.

Ironically, Francis is scheduled to join the Grizzlies nearly 10 years after he refused to join the franchise as a coveted prospect out of Maryland. The Vancouver Grizzlies made Francis the second overall pick in 1999 but the explosive guard forced a draft-day trade.

Francis' rights were traded to Houston on August 27, 1999 in a three-team, 11-player deal.

So what are the Grizzlies' intentions regarding Francis, who has failed to crack the Rockets rotation since returning to Houston in 2007?

Wallace said he spoke with Francis' agent, Jeff Fried, and received no indication that the 31-year-old would balk at the deal. He is expected to arrive in Memphis on Friday to receive a physical.

"We're going to bring him in," Wallace said. "I can't guarantee what his role will be but he's been practicing down there (in Houston) the whole time."

The 6-3 scorer has yet to appear in a game with the Rockets this season. Francis averaged 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 10 games (three starts) in 2007-08. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right knee in February.

Francis averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds in six-plus seasons during his first stint with the Rockets. He was named the NBA's co-rookie of the year with Elton Brand in 2000 and made three All-Star appearances.

Francis then joined Orlando as a result of the trade that gave Tracy McGrady to Houston. Orlando eventually shipped Francis to New York, which dealt the fading star to Portland in June 2007.

The Trail Blazers bought out Francis' contract, and that allowed him to re-sign with the Rockets.

Being acquired by the Grizzlies brings Francis full circle in his NBA career.

"We're happy with our end of it," Wallace said. "We haven't had any second-round picks the last couple of years. They're a valuable commodity. It's nice to have them. We'll see if (Francis) can help us, and we don't lose anything cap-wise for the future by doing this."

Tip-in: The Griz recalled center Hamed Haddadi from the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League. The 7-2, 280-pound Iranian averaged 6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 17.7 minutes in 11 games with the Wizards.

- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 27, 2008


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