#2 Overall Pick Heads to Houston - 8/28/99
Rockets get: G Steve Francis, F Tony Massenburg, F Don McLean, future first-round pick (ORL)
Grizzlies get: F Othella Harrington, F Antoine Carr, G Brent Price, G Michael Dickerson, future first-round pick (HOU), future second-round pick (ORL)
Magic get: F Michael Smith, G Lee Mayberry, G Rodrick Rhodes, F Makhtar N’diaye
After a premature playoff exit in the 1999 lockout season, the Rockets were heading for a new era. After trading Scottie Pippen for six players, a trade that appeared earlier on this list, the Rockets made another multi-player deal. They shipped four players and a future first-round pick to acquire the second overall pick in the most recent draft, Maryland guard Steve Francis. It was the highest draft pick the Rockets had obtained since the team drafted Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984.
The price was steep to acquire Francis, but the point guard was adamant about his lack of desire to play in Vancouver and wanted to play elsewhere. That’s when the Rockets called up the Grizzlies.
In order to acquire such a promising prospect, they did have to relinquish some assets.
Michael Dickerson started every game in his rookie season for the Rockets and made the 1999 All-Rookie Second Team. He would go on to have two good seasons in Vancouver before the team relocated to Memphis, one of which he averaged over 18 points per game. However, once the team moved to Memphis, injuries sidelined him to 10 games over two seasons and he never played in the NBA after the 02-03 season.
Other than Dickerson, the Rockets did not have to give up much. Othella Harrington spent parts of two seasons with the Grizzlies, his two best statistical seasons of his career. Antoine Carr retired after one season with the team, and Brent Price saw 47 games of action over two seasons.
The Rockets won this trade without question. Steve Francis spent five seasons with the team and averaged at least 16 points per game in every year with the squad. His accolades include the 1999-2000 Rookie of the Year and three All-Star appearances in his final three years.
When Francis joined the team, they were looking for someone to pass the torch off to as the Olajuwon era was coming to an end. The team missed the playoffs in his first three seasons and spiraled down to the bottom of the standings. But then, the Rockets acquired another high draft pick: Yao Ming.
The Rockets hoped that Yao and Francis would become the next best pick-and-roll pair in the league and the two were beginning to show signs of that.
In two seasons, Francis and Yao took the Rockets from the bottom of the barrel to a playoff team. In Francis’s final appearance with the team in the 2004 Playoffs, the Rockets lost to the eventual Western Conference champion Lakers in five games.
That offseason, Francis was dealt to the Orlando Magic in a trade you might see later on this list.
After Francis left the Rockets, he was not the same player. Injuries would derail his career and he went from All-Star to out of the league by the time he turned 30.
However, had Francis stayed healthy and in Houston, he and Yao were on the cusp of building something fantastic in Houston. But when you get a chance to trade for the leading scorer in the NBA, you have to take the opportunity, even if it means letting go of your 3-time All-Star point guard in the prime of his career.
Is Steve Francis an all-time Rockets great?
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