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Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Rockets add McGrady in 7-player deal

Houston sends Francis to Orlando, hopes new guard helps Yao

June 30, 2004

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— Tracy McGrady is leaving his hometown team for Houston in a blockbuster trade that sends Steve Francis to the Orlando Magic and gives the Rockets one of the NBA's most intriguing duos.

The deal, which had been in the works for nearly two weeks, also sent forward Juwan Howard and guards Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines to the Rockets. The Magic will acquire guard Cuttino Mobley and forward Kelvin Cato.

"I just knew it was going to take time," McGrady told ESPN Tuesday night. "I'm happy, and it's time to move on."

The trade was finalized after Francis' meeting with Magic general manager John Weisbrod and other team officials Tuesday in Orlando.

McGrady, a two-time NBA scoring champion, now joins 7-foot-5 Yao Ming to form a combination that potentially could be as dominant as the Los Angeles Lakers' three-time title twosome of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

"I sure hope so," McGrady said in the ESPN interview. "I can't predict the future, but it definitely would be nice. The ultimate goal is to win a championship for the Houston Rockets."

And with the Lakers splintering apart since coming up short in the NBA Finals, Houston immediately looks like a serious championship contender in the Western Conference next season.

McGrady signed with the Magic in 2000, thinking he and Grant Hill could push an up-and-coming squad over the top. But Hill's bad left ankle limited him to 37 games in four seasons, and McGrady's load grew heavier with each passing year.

Tired of carrying a mediocre franchise, McGrady vowed to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract that was to go into effect at the end of next season. But Orlando did not want him to leave without the team receiving compensation -- like O'Neal did eight years ago.

McGrady, 25, becomes the fourth defending scoring champion in NBA history to be dealt away and the first since the Buffalo Braves sent Bob McAdoo to the New York Knicks in 1976.

Francis, a three-time All-Star, averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season to join Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Hill as the only players in league history to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in each of their first five years.

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