News » Francis close to joining Grizzlies

Francis close to joining Grizzlies

Francis close to joining Grizzlies
Griz notebook

Former NBA All-Star Steve Francis passed his physical Friday and today should become an official member of the Memphis Grizzlies .

Francis was the No. 2 overall pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999, then his rights were traded to the Houston Rockets. He was acquired Wednesday in a trade with Houston in which the Grizzlies reclaimed their 2009 second-round draft pick and cash considerations for a conditional second-round pick in 2011.

Francis, 31, did not suit up nor was he on the bench for Friday night's game against Indiana. Pending final test results, the trade should become official today. The 6-3, 210-pound combo guard did not play in a game this season for the Rockets. Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said he's looking forward to seeing how Francis will fit in .

"He's a veteran," Iavaroni said. "He's a guy who can score the ball when he's right. He has the ability to make others better with penetration. He's a tough cover. I think a lot depends on just where he is conditioning-wise and mentally and physically."

Francis was a three-time All-Star with the Rockets (2002, 2003, 2004) before he was traded to Orlando for Tracy McGrady. He was later traded to the New York Knicks.

Last season, Francis rejoined the Rockets as a free agent. In 10 games, he averaged 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn quadriceps in his right leg last February.

Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay , a Baltimore native, grew up watching Francis, who starred at the University of Maryland.

"I've known Steve for a little bit so it's going to be good to have someone from close to where I'm from," Gay said. "I used to watch him growing up. He was an All-Star. There's a lot he can teach us."

One who could benefit from Francis' knowledge is point guard Mike Conley , now that he is playing with the second unit, which is likely where Francis will be given an opportunity to play.

"I think it was a good pickup," Conley said. "He's a veteran, a guy that can still play. He can really help us out both on the court, and for support. He's been around this league and can teach us a lot of things about the game. I know he'll be a great leader out there, a guy that can score and make plays and just give us some more options."

Iranian returns

The Grizzlies welcomed back rookie Hamed Haddadi from the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League.

Hamed, a 7-2 center from Iran, played in 11 games with the Wizards. He averaged 6 points and 5.9 rebounds along with 1.55 blocked shots in 17.7 minutes.

"I heard there were times where he dominated and there were other times where he was a little out of place," Iavaroni said. "That's pretty normal for a 7-foot guy from Iran."

Haddadi, who is the first Iranian to make an NBA roster, is still looking to make his NBA debut. Iavaroni said the D-League experience helped get Haddidi in better condition.

"He ran a lot more," Iavaroni said. "It's obviously a running league, a smaller man's league. He got more minutes. We're counting on him to be lighter on his feet and probably more confident overall."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 30, 2008


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