NBA News

Houston Rockets: On This Day 14 Years Ago Steve Francis Came to Houston

By Phillip Pyle

In what was then the largest trade in NBA history, 11 players changed teams.

The Vancouver Grizzlies traded the rights to Steve Francis and Tony Massenburg to the Houston Rockets for Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr, Brent Price, Houston’s first-round draft pick in 2000, 2001 or 2002, and the Orlando Magic’s 2000 second-round draft pick. The Orlando Magic  traded Don MacLean to Houston, and received Lee Mayberry, Makhtar Ndiaye, Rodrick Rhodes and Michael Smith from Vancouver. (whew)

Steve “Franchise” Francis was selected second in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He publicly announced that he did not want to play for the Grizzlies, citing the distance from his Maryland home, taxes, endorsements, and God’s will. Francis went on to share Rookie of the Year honors with Elton Brand and finishing as runner-up to Vince Carter in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.

When the Rockets signed Jeff Van Gundy in 2003, his coaching style conflicted with the uptempo style of Francis.

As Francis’ relationship with Van Gundy deteriorated it was apparent that the Rockets wanted to go in a different direction. While the coach sought to focus the team’s offense on Yao Ming, the Rockets ended up trading Francis, along with his best friend on the team Cuttino Mobley, as well as Kelvin Cato, for Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, and Reece Gaines.

During Francis’ first tenure in Houston, he averaged 19.3 points, 6.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.63 steals in 374 games.