Once celebrated as the Rockets' Franchise, the point guard will come back to Houston seeking a return to more than just his adopted hometown, where he began his NBA career...It's hard to criticize the Clippers if they truly put the best offer on the table. Rockets GM Daryl Morey is the sharpest GM in the league right now and has tremendous powers of persuasion. Presumably, Morey and Rick Adelman guaranteed Francis playing time ahead of Rafer Alston, who might now be on the trading block.
Francis, the cornerstone of the Rockets' post-Hakeem Olajuwon rebuilding plans, passed on more lucrative offers from the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers...
"It's a combination of a variety of factors, including the fit with the team, a comfortableness with the organization and a familiarity with the surroundings," Francis' agent Jeff Fried said. "He has a home in Houston. In so many ways, it has remained his home, despite some interim stops, Orlando and New York.
"For Steve, it's coming home."The Rockets were limited to the portion of the mid-level exception remaining after acquiring forward Luis Scola last week. Francis' two-year contract is worth $2.4 million the first year. He can opt out after one season...
Francis had been recruited by Adelman, Morey, former Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson, Yao Ming and McGrady. He had considered offers to reunite with Mobley, a friend and former teammate, and Sam Cassell, a friend and business partner, with the Clippers, and to play with each of the 2006 NBA Finals teams, the Mavericks and Heat.
"It's a chance to win," Morey said. "Both Yao and Tracy really helped with the recruiting process and are excited about our chance to win with the additions in the offseason. We're feeling good we've addressed a lot of our goals.
"When you have a chance to add a talent like Steve who really fits what coach is trying to do, you do it."
Where does that leave the Clippers?
Honestly? In the shitter. When he's healthy, Brevin Knight is a solid pure point guard [John Hollinger has some interesting stats here.], but he hasn't played 70 games since his rookie season, and has played more than 55 games only twice since '99-'00. Maybe the Clippers roll the dice and try to deal for someone like Jose Calderon, but that would require giving up a scorer [read: Maggette], and I'm not sure the Clippers can afford to get anymore anemic offensively right now. Either way, the failure of the front office to land a legitimate point guard will leave the Clippers as outsiders respective to the 2008 NBA Playoffs unless Chris Kaman becomes Rik Smits and Sam Cassell can play more than 2,000 minutes.