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Magic end suspension, reinstate Francis after meeting

1/16/2006 - NBA Steve Francis Orlando Magic + more

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Steve Francis was reinstated by the Orlando Magic on Monday, three days after he was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team."

Francis, who missed two games, met with team officials on Monday.

"We now consider the matter closed and look forward to Steve's
return to practice tomorrow," assistant general manager Otis Smith
said in a statement.

Citing anonymous sources, two newspapers reported Francis was
suspended for refusing to re-enter the fourth quarter of a blowout
loss last week.

Francis is averaging 16.6 points and 5.4 assists per game this
season for the Magic. He's expected to play Wednesday when Orlando plays host to Washington.

Jeff Fried, Francis' agent, said the three-time All-Star
returned to his Houston home while away from the team and was eager to return.

"I genuinely believe that while it was a difficult few days, this incident will make Steve into even a better player and a leader of the team," Fried said. "Right now, he's so anxious to get back out on the court he wishes practice was tonight."

Orlando could certainly use him. The Magic are 13-22, losers of seven of their last eight, and entered Monday 8½ games behind Miami
in the Southeast Division. The Magic went 0-4 on their West Coast
swing, with Francis missing a 113-108 loss in Portland on Friday
and Sunday's 104-100 loss to Sacramento.

The Magic were also without guard Keyon Dooling for both those
games, as the guard serves a five-game NBA suspension for fighting
with Seattle's Ray Allen last week.

Besides the suspensions, injuries continue to hamper Orlando.

All-Star forward Grant Hill scored 18 points Sunday after
missing four games with a groin injury, but was in visible pain
after the game. He missed the Magic's first 19 games this season
after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.

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

He was fined $25,000 after using profanity during a halftime
interview during a nationally televised game while playing for
Houston in March 2004. He also was suspended one game without pay
for missing the Rockets' flight to Phoenix in February 2004.