Ryan's Place

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Francis to Re-Join Team

From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

Several clubs inquired about trading for Orlando Magic point guard Steve Francis while he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, NBA sources told the Sentinel.

But in a meeting Monday among Francis, Assistant General Manager Otis Smith and Coach Brian Hill in which the Magic lifted his two-game suspension, the club told Jeff Fried, Francis' agent, that they had no plans to deal him.

"Yes, I asked," Fried said. "The answer was, 'No.' "

Francis will speak with his teammates at practice today and play Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards at TD Waterhouse Centre.

NBA sources said there were more than a half-dozen teams that inquired about Francis' availability.

"Any time a team sees some friction . . . if that opportunity arises to capitalize, most teams want to seize on it," Fried said. "But any time it was approached, my answer is that, 'Steve is very happy in Orlando.' He wants to stay here and lead this team to the playoffs."

Francis wouldn't be easy to trade, but not impossible. He has three years and $48 million left on a contract he signed with the Houston Rockets.

The Magic suspended Francis for the last two games on their West Coast trip after he refused to re-enter the game Wednesday night against the SuperSonics in Seattle.

Fried said Francis told Hill and Smith in Monday's meeting that he made a mistake "in the heat of an emotional moment and the game . . . an incident he wished did not take place. He has remorse. I think you'll see a new player, and you'll see that passion that Steve is all about. That spark is back."

The meeting with Francis, Smith said, "went well. It was positive."

Hill did not return a message Monday night.

What led to Francis' sudden insubordination "was a couple of weeks of frustration," Fried said.


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