The "Franchise" returns

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Francis returns to Rockets with two-year deal

Guard passes on more lucrative offers to play in city where NBA career began

Free to go anywhere, Steve Francis came home to the team and city he never wanted to leave.

Once celebrated as the Rockets' Franchise, the point guard will come back to Houston seeking a return to more than just his adopted hometown, where he began his NBA career.

Three seasons and three teams since the Rockets traded him, Francis signed a two-year deal Thursday. He was a three-time All-Star with the Rockets before getting traded to Orlando after the 2003-04 season.

"I think he sees this as a rebirth," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said, "as a restart of his career."

Francis, the cornerstone of the Rockets' post-Hakeem Olajuwon rebuilding plans, passed on more lucrative offers from the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Dealt by the New York Knicks to the Portland Trail Blazers after the season, Francis accepted a buyout of the last two seasons of his contract, worth roughly $30 million, to become a free agent.

"It's a combination of a variety of factors, including the fit with the team, a comfortableness with the organization and a familiarity with the surroundings," Francis' agent Jeff Fried said. "He has a home in Houston. In so many ways, it has remained his home, despite some interim stops, Orlando and New York.

"For Steve, it's coming home."

The Rockets were limited to the portion of the mid-level exception remaining after acquiring forward Luis Scola last week. Francis' two-year contract is worth $2.4 million the first year. He can opt out after one season.

Francis, 30, played five seasons for the Rockets, averaging 19.3 points, 6.4 assists and 6.1 rebounds. He was traded in June of 2004 to the Magic along with Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato in the deal to acquire Tracy McGrady. After one strong season with Orlando, he was dealt to the Knicks during the 2005-06 season and generally struggled to regain the form of his first years in the league. He usually came off the bench in the Knicks' crowded backcourt and battled knee troubles last season.

Morey said he had been told of no complications with Francis' physical Thursday afternoon.

Source: Houston Chronicle

If your form Houston and a Houston Rocket fan, you can't say we aren't bound for a deep deep deep playoff run this year. Now, I can wear my Steve Francis jersery again!

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He was never the same after he left Houston. Good to see him back.

No joke, I'm so excited about this up coming season.

PG - Rafer Alston, Mike James, Steve Francis, Aaron Brooks

SG - Tracy McGrady, Luther Head

SF - Shane Battier, Bonzi Wells

PF - Scola, Hayes (when resigned)

C - Yao Ming, Deke Mutumbo (when resigned), Jackie Butler

There's a few I'm missing, but I'm too excited!

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I believe I speak for all Vancouver fans when I say

BOOOO!!! on Steve Francis!

Who got the better end of that trade? :)

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