Steve Francis has agreed on a 2-year contract with the Houston Rockets for roughly $6 million, returning to the team with whom he spent the first five years of his career. Francis was recently bought out of his contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, agreeing to a one-time payment of $31 million to void the two years and $34 million remaining.
Francis was traded from Houston to the Orlando Magic in 2004 with Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato for Tracy McGrady, Juwon Howard, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines. He was the subsequently traded to the New York Knicks in February 2006 for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and Trevor Ariza. Finally, he was traded along with Channing Frye to the Portland Trail Blazers for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau and Fred Jones at this year’s Draft.
The former co-Rookie of the Year is only 30 years old, but his play as of late makes him look like he could be closing in on 40. He was known as “The Franchise” early in his career and made a number of All-Star teams in his time with Houston. He had a number of difficulties in Orlando, including an instance where he refused to re-enter a game because it was a blowout. At that point, Francis was suspended indefinitely, which eventually lead to his trade to New York.
Francis will not be the primary or even secondary scoring option in Houston, which was his previous role with the team. He will now be asked to set the tempo for Houston’s big scorers Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. It will be interesting to see if Francis will be able to play that role, or if his clear selfishness will take over and cause a disruption for the team that has not gotten out of the first round of the playoffs since McGrady arrived.