HOUSTON (AP) - After more than a week of discussions, Orlando's Tracy McGrady and Houston's Steve Francis will be switching places. Francis met with
Orlando Magic officials on Tuesday, paving the way for a multiplayer trade that would include NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady.
Francis' agent, Jeff Fried, had said if all went well during the meeting with Magic general manager John Weisbrod and other team officials, a deal
could be announced as early as Wednesday.
It turned out to be even earlier.
According to broadcast reports, the trade has the Rockets sending Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Kelvin Cato to Orlando for McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn
Lue and Reece Gaines.
When reports of a prospective deal came out last week, Francis balked at leaving Houston for rebuilding Orlando. But Fried said a talk between Francis
and Weisbrod after Thursday's draft helped alleviate some of the All-Star guard's concerns about joining the Magic.
Fried said Weisbrod convinced Francis that the Magic could improve quickly with the additions of No. 1 draft pick Dwight Howard, a 6-foot-11 high
school star from Atlanta, and point guard Jameer Nelson, the 5-11 point guard from St. Joseph's who won virtually every college player of the year
award last season.
Francis was also impressed that the Magic wanted to make him the centerpiece of the rebuilding franchise.
"I think that he certainly believes in what John is trying to build," Fried said. The Magic "could well have gotten almost any player in the league
for Tracy McGrady. Steve felt pretty pleased with their reasons for talking to him and what his role might be in the rebuilding process."
McGrady had vowed to exercise the opt-out clause that goes into effect at the end of next season.
So the Magic traded McGrady, the NBA's two-time scoring champion, because they didn't want him to leave without the team receiving compensation - like
Shaquille O'Neal did eight years ago.
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 Grant 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.
Francis, Mobley and 7-5 center Yao Ming led the Rockets to the playoffs last season for the first time in five years. Houston lost to the Los Angeles
Lakers in the first round.
But Francis, who flourished in an up-tempo offense for the past four years, was put on the summer trading block after posting the worst numbers of his
career in new coach Jeff Van Gundy's slower-paced offensive scheme