Francis forces 11-player swap

Published Aug. 28, 1999|Updated Sept. 29, 2005

Steve Francis got his trade wish and, in return, the Grizzlies got their depth.

In what turned out to be a three-way deal involving the Rockets and Magic, the Grizzlies sent Francis, their disgruntled draft pick who was selected second overall in June, to the Rockets. It was part of an 11-player swap that was the largest in history.

In return, the Grizzlies got forwards Othella Harrington and Antoine Carr and guards Michael Dickerson and Brent Price from Houston, as well as a first-round draft pick in 2000, 2001, or 2002.

From Orlando, the Grizzlies got the Magic's second-round draft pick in 2002.

"This deal gives us two young talented players and two veteran NBA experienced players," Grizzlies president and GM Stu Jackson said. "We improve our outside shooting, athleticism and provide overall team depth and add some veteran leadership."

Along with Francis, the Rockets got journeyman forward Tony Massenberg from the Grizzlies.

As part of the deal, the Magic sent Don MacLean to Houston, in exchange for Grizzlies Michael Smith, Lee Mayberry, Rodrick Rhodes and Makhtar Ndiaye, whom the Grizzlies re-signed and then dealt away.

The trade is the seventh the Magic has been involved in since losing to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. Only one starter from last season _ point guard Darrell Armstrong _ remains on the roster inherited by first-year coach Doc Rivers, who was hired June 7.

The deal was announced the same day Francis was scheduled to hold a news conference, in which he was expected to say he would refuse to play for the Grizzlies.

On draft night, Francis showed he was unhappy at being picked by Vancouver. He later explained his initial reluctance was because he didn't want to move so far away from his Maryland home and his grandmother, who has raised him since the death of his mother.

The Rockets were thrilled with the acquisition of the young, wide-open Francis.

"We think in Steve Francis we're probably going to get the most exciting player in the draft," (Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "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."

In an unrelated move, the Grizzlies signed veteran free-agent F Dennis Scott, a nine-year veteranwho played for Grizzlies coach Brian Hill in Orlando.

LEWIS LAWSUIT: In the lawsuit concerning the death of former Boston standout Reggie Lewis, lawyers for Donna Harris-Lewis have offered to settle the medical malpractice lawsuit against her late husband's chief cardiologist. But the offer to Gilbert H. Mudge Jr. _ for no more than $5-million, the ceiling on Mudge's malpractice insurance coverage _ has been rejected, setting the stage for a second trial.

Mudge's attorney, William J. Dailey Jr., declined to comment on the settlement offer, but said he anticipates a retrial.

"We are preparing to try the case again," Dailey said. "It is unlikely that the case is going to be settled."

BULLS: Days after reuniting with C Will Perdue, the team is on the verge of doing the same with guard B.J. Armstrong, who played on the first three of Chicago's six championship teams in the 1990s. Armstrong said he had reached a oral agreement for a deal reported to be for one year at $1-million. The team said the contract had not been finalized.

"We're looking at Monday or Tuesday," team spokesman Tim Hallam said.

Also, San Jose State coach Phil Johnson was hired as an assistant to coach Tim Floyd.

MAVERICKS: The team re-signed F Gary Trent to a one-year contract that includes a player option for a second season. Terms weren't disclosed, but the Dallas Morning News reported it is worth about $2-million a year. The team also signed Cedric Ceballos to a two-year, $7.4-million deal.

JAZZ: Free-agent F/C Olden Polynice agreed to a two-year contract, with a player option for a third year. Polynice is the first significant free-agent addition for the Jazz, which has lost big men Greg Foster, who signed with Seattle, and Todd Fuller, who joined Charlotte. The 34-year-old Polynice spent last season with Seattle, averaging 7.7 points and a team-leading 8.9 rebounds.

PISTONS: Before allowing key reserve Jerome Williams to participate in a charity game that will benefit underprivileged children in Connecticut, the team asked the power forward to sign an injury waiver.

After Williams balked, the team relented. Nevertheless, Detroit's actions irked the game's sponsor, Bucks G Ray Allen.

"It shows you the teams that do that, and whatever management does that, really doesn't care what charity work goes on," said Allen, founder of the Ray of Hope Foundation. "It shows their true colors."

Had Williams signed the waiver, the team wouldn't have had to pay his salary if he were hurt in today's NBA-sanctioned game.

IMPERSONATOR ARRESTED: Anwar Bostic, who impersonated Dallas G Robert Pack, was arrested at his home on outstanding warrants. An investigation of Bostic's impersonation of Pack is ongoing.

Bostic's antics have been of great concern to Pack, an eight-year veteran, said Anthony Hilliard, the player's agent.

"We're very relieved," Hilliard said. "It's been a bizarre ordeal. You just don't know what people like this are capable of doing."