Francis to Return to Rockets

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

HOUSTON – Steve Francis is returning to the Rockets. Francis has agreed to a deal with Houston, his agent Jeff Fried said Thursday.

Before he was traded to Orlando in 2004 as part of a multiplayer deal that brought Tracy McGrady to the Rockets, Francis spent his first five NBA seasons with the Rockets.

He was sent to the Knicks in early 2006 and played for them until he was traded to Portland last month in a draft-night deal. The Trail Blazers bought out his contract for a reported $30 million last week, making him an unrestricted free agent.

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“We’re extremely pleased that he’s going back to Houston,” Fried said. “Houston has always been home for Steve since he entered the NBA.”

Fried said the buyout from Portland allowed Francis more freedom in choosing a team based on factors other than money. He would not release terms of the deal, but said other teams offered more lucrative contracts.

Miami, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers were interested in the 30-year-old guard.

“When you look back at a few months ago and the status of things and fast forward to today, it’s really something that probably could not have been planned or implemented any better,” Fried said.

Fried said Francis chose the Rockets because of his “comfort factor” with the team and because he believes he can be a “meaningful participant in the overall success” in Houston.

Francis played just 44 games for the Knicks last season while dealing with injuries, averaging a career-low 11.3 points. The three-time All-Star has averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 assists in his eight-year NBA career.

Francis has maintained a home in Houston since signing with the Rockets his rookie season and spent time in the city last season while recovering from a knee injury.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)