This Day in Houston Rockets History: The Steve Francis Trade

By Michael Knight
19 Jan 2001: Steve Francis
19 Jan 2001: Steve Francis /

There was a pretty special trade in the history of the Rockets that happened on this day in 1999.

18 years ago today, Steve Francis was traded to the Houston Rockets in a three-team deal. This trade happened after Francis was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies and decided he did not want to play there.

To satisfy Steve, the Grizzlies traded him to Houston in an 11-player transaction. At the time, this trade involved the most players in NBA history. The massive trade involved the Rockets sending a first round pick the next 3 years, so it was no light trade for Houston.

More information about the logistics of the trade can be found in this 1999 article on Amarillo Globe-News here. It includes some interesting quotes and information about the trade from a perspective around the time of the trade.

About Francis, Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said:

"“We think in Steve Francis we’re probably going to get the most exciting player in the draft. Very explosive, great in the open court. Real hard to contain, just a super athlete. All the coaches he’s been involved with just love him as a kid. He’s unselfish, but he’s talented. I think he’s a very big piece looking toward our future.”"

Rookie Year

Steve joined an old roster that was supposed to contain Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen. However, Scottie was traded to Portland before the season and Charles only played 20 games in the 1999-2000 season. Hakeem the Dream was 37 and certainly out of his prime. He only played in half of the games of the team. Steve Francis suddenly found himself in a position of leadership in Houston.

In his first year in the league, Steve Francis averaged 18 points and 6.6 assists per game. With all the injuries to the team, Steve had a fairly high USG% (Usage) of 25.0. At the end of the year, he won co-Rookie of the Year with Elton Brand. However, the Rockets were pretty bad and missed the playoffs.

On this day in 1999, @SteveFranchise3 was traded to @HoustonRockets as part of three-team, 11-player deal

— (@NBAcom) August 26, 2017

His Time in Houston

Two years later, the best year of Francis’s career, the Rockets were even worse. Thankfully for Houston, though, this allowed them to select Yao Ming in the next draft. Yao and Steve were a pretty dynamic duo, one of the best in the history of the franchise. While it did not bring the success the team would have wanted, the two were entertaining for sure.

“The Franchise” was traded to Orlando in 2004 for future Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady. Over the rest of his career, and after even, Steve has struggled with off-the-court issues. He was actually eventually traded back to Houston in 2008, but only played 10 games for the team.

Steve is one of the most intriguing players in the history of the Rockets. He was extremely talented, but never really helped the Rockets be successful. Over his career, he only played in the playoffs once, and it was a first round exit.

On a completely different note, please stay safe during Hurricane Harvey if you are in the path of the storm.

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*All stats via Basketball-Reference*

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