Magic end suspension, reinstate Francis after meeting

Updated: January 16, 2006, 8:45 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Point Guard
Orlando Magic

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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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press