Report: Deal to be announced Wednesday
Steve Francis, the principal Houston Rocket in a proposed multi-player trade that involves Tracy McGrady, will travel to Orlando on Tuesday to meet with Magic management and its coaching staff, his agent said Monday.
Francis will be in Orlando for two days to visit the entire organization, look at the team's practice facility and to make sure that the Magic are committed to building a team with him as a focal point.
The Washington Post, citing a source with knowledge of the deal, reported Tuesday that the Magic are expected to announce the trade Wednesday. Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato would be sent to Orlando for McGrady, Juwan Howard, Reece Gaines and Tyronn Lue.
The trade was nearly completed early last week, but the Magic balked at the last minute. If a deal is not completed by Wednesday, the league's July moratorium on trades would kick in, forcing the teams to wait until July 14.
Meanwhile, Francis' base-year status would expire, forcing Houston and Orlando to revise the deal to make it work under NBA rules for teams over the salary cap. By then, the Houston Chronicle reported, Lue likely would have exercised his option to terminate his contract, making him ineligible for the trade unless via a sign-and-trade deal.
Francis spoke by phone with Magic general manager John Weisbrod last week. Asked how he felt about the trade now, Francis told the Houston Chronicle: "You know I was mad, but now I'm cool. I'm cool about everything."
Also Monday, the Magic introduced new point guard Jameer Nelson, whom they selected with the 20th pick in last week's NBA draft.
Nelson, the 5-foot-11 point guard from Saint Joseph's, won virtually every college player of the year award last season. That he went late in the first round put a chip on his shoulder, "and it's not going away."
"I have always been overlooked because people say I'm too small, but what they don't understand is that I'm getting the job done," Nelson said. "Don't tell me somebody is better than me just because the guy is 6-2. If I can do the same things he can or a guy that's 6-4, 6-5, what is the difference?"
Nelson was drafted by Denver, which shipped his rights to Orlando for a future first-round pick.
Some had projected Nelson to be a lottery pick, and the snub is going to serve as fuel, Nelson said.
"It will be with me throughout my career," Nelson said. "But it's going to be a blessing in disguise because obviously I'm wanted down here in Orlando. I'm needed and they want me here."
The Magic don't seem to mind that Nelson arrived a little angry.
"He definitely has a hatchet to bury," Weisbrod said. "I think he certainly relishes the challenge. It would be exciting to see him [eager] to stick it to people.''
Weisbrod said the Magic started working on the deal that eventually landed Nelson shortly after they selected high schooler Dwight Howard with the No. 1 overall pick.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.