The Rockets’ long pursuit of NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady was completed today with a seven-player trade that will send McGrady to the Rockets and Steve Francis to the Magic, sources close to the talks said this afternoon.
The NBA had received the contracts of the players involved and the conference call approving the deal was complete, sources said.
Official announcement of the trade is not expected until Wednesday. Officials from both teams declined comment.
The Rockets will acquire McGrady, veteran power forward Juwan Howard and guards Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines with the Rockets sending their starting backcourt of the past four seasons, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, and center/forward Kelvin Cato to the Magic.
Francis, Mobley and Cato were in Orlando today to visit with team officials, more than a week after Francis’ agent, Jeff Fried, told his client that the deal was “close.”
After Francis initial trepidation about going to the Magic, 21-61 last season, several conversations between his representative and Magic officials and himself with Magic general manager John Weisbrod had made him much more open to the idea of the trade and apparently moved the Magic to complete the deal.
McGrady led the NBA in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 28 points last season and 32.1 in the 2002-2003 season.
Say this about the Rockets under Les Alexander: They’ve never been afraid to shake things up and take a risk. Look at the players they’ve traded or traded for: Clyde Drexler (midseason, no less), Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, now Steve Francis (himself acquired via trade) and Tracy McGrady. The record has been mixed, but I don’t think any of the moves were reckless or thoughtless at the time. However you slice it, they’ve not been complacent, and I think as a fan you have to appreciate that.
Anyway. So long and best wishes to Francis, Mobley, and Cato. Whatever happens, I’ll still miss them.