Magic refuse to comment on Francis' suspension

Updated: January 13, 2006, 7:57 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic indefinitely suspended Steve Francis because he refused to play late in the fourth quarter of a blowout, two newspapers reported Friday.

The Orlando Sentinel and Florida Today, both citing anonymous sources, said the star guard wouldn't re-enter Wednesday night's game against Seattle to replace Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu had fouled out with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left and the Magic trailing 103-87.

Magic spokesman Joel Glass told The Associated Press on Friday the team had no comment on the reports. Orlando has said only that Francis was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team."

Coach Brian Hill also would not confirm the reports.

"I'm just going to leave it as it is," he said from the team's shootaround in Portland, Ore., before a game against the Trail Blazers. "It's an internal matter that we're going to handle from within, without commenting on it."

Hill said he planned to call Francis before the team returns to Orlando on Monday.

"We just want to try to get the situation resolved," he said.

Video footage showed Hill pointing to Francis to check into the game. However, the point guard shook his head, said something to Hill and did not get up from the bench. Hill approached Francis and the two continued to talk. Stacey Augmon replaced Turkoglu.

"He wouldn't go back into the game," the source told Florida Today.

Magic assistant general manager Otis Smith told the newspaper the suspension was related to something that happened during and after the game but declined to elaborate.

The Magic finish a four-game road trip against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Francis and agent Jeff Fried are expected to meet Monday with Hill and Magic executives. Fried has not returned calls.

Francis is averaging 16.6 points, second on the team, and a team-high 5.4 assists.

The NBA suspended Francis for three games late last season for kicking a courtside photographer during a game at Seattle. Orlando fined Francis an undisclosed amount last season after missing a practice following the All-Star break.

The Magic are also without forward Grant Hill, who has a groin strain and is day-to-day.

"We'll just have to make that up with trying to get the ball to our key people that we think have the best opportunity to score. The other thing is trying to get easy points, trying to get points in transition, trying to get to the free-throw line, trying to get second-chance points. It has to be a collective effort, really," Hill said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press