Rockets' Francis to have season-ending knee surgery

HOUSTON -- Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis will have
season-ending surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon in his
right knee, but expects to play again next season.

The 6-foot-3 Francis hasn't played since Dec. 15. He's appeared
in only 10 games this season with three starts, averaging 5.5
points and 3.0 assists. The team said Francis will have surgery
Feb. 25.

"It's definitely tough and disheartening," Francis said
Thursday, 90 minutes before the Rockets played Cleveland. "Despite
the way the season started, I thought I was making progress. But
after rehabbing for a while, it still didn't respond in the manner
I wanted it to."

Trainer Keith Jones estimated that Francis will need about four
months to heal before he's even ready to practice.

"We would hope he'd be back by the start of training camp,"
Jones said. "I can't say if he will or he won't. That's what we're

Francis signed a one-year contract with the Rockets with an
option for a second year, returning to the city where he played
from 1999-2004. He was traded to Orlando in 2004 in a deal that
brought Tracy McGrady to the Rockets. After two seasons with the
Magic, Francis spent two seasons with New York.

The former Maryland star has career averages of 18 points and
6.0 assists, but his numbers have steadily declined since he left
the Magic. Francis, who will turn 31 on Feb. 21, said he's
determined to return next season.

"This is an obstacle I have to address," he said. "I still
have the confidence that I can come back and play. I'm definitely
in high spirits about it."