Wednesday , Nov , 07 , 2007 Christopher Sells

Steve Francis: Break-ups to Make-ups?

Remember that girlfriend you used to have? The one who you liked a whole lot (dare I say loved) and you guys were inseparable? Remember how things started taking a turn for the worse and you guys starting falling out of love? Then eventually you guys split up because you decided it wouldn’t work. You watched each other from afar, watched how one went through their life pretty easily and the other had their struggles. Then one summer, you guys decided to give it another shot because you still had feelings for one another. And even though you guys hadn’t been back together for that long, you had a feeling deep down that it wasn’t going to work. Remember that girl?

Steve Francis is that girl.

Francis has had a roller coaster ride of a career. He sulked when he was drafted by the Grizzlies and forced his way through a trade to Houston. He was named Co-Rookie of the Year and he spent the next four years filling up stat sheets and trying to get the Rockets into the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. He made it in his final year in Houston, also the first year of the Jeff Van Gundy era. The two clashed and it became evident that one of them had to go, despite their promising and competitive series against the Lakers.

"The Franchise" was ushered out of Houston along with three teammates in exchange for Tracy McGrady and spare parts. There was some time spent in Orlando that was semi-successful but then he fell out of favor there. Eventually, he was picked up by the Knicks, but nothing worthwhile happened there. He was again traded during last summer’s draft, this time to the Blazers, who would buy out his contract and let him become a free agent.

This is where the plot thickens. Francis had his pick of any team in the league, especially because anyone who signed him would get him for next to nothing while Portland would still be paying the lion’s share of his salary. He chose to return to Houston because his home is there and because the fans have always had love for him.  Sure, the Rockets were already fully staffed  at point guard and to a lesser degree at shooting guard.  Franchise could beat out all of those players, or at least enough of them to contribute on the court significantly, right?

Uh, no.

To date, Francis has seen zero time on the court since the regular season began. There have been rumors that it’s merely an issue of conditioning, but it’s very possible that the guy who are playing ahead of him are better suited to what the team wants.

Francis doesn’t run an offense the way Rafer Alston does. He doesn’t shoot the ball the way that Luther Head does. He isn’t going to go out and to the dirty work like Bonzi Wells does. As a matter of fact, the role of Steve Francis as a scorer and game-changer off the bench is currently being played by Mike James. And right now, Mike James is being Steve Francis better than Steve Francis can be Steve Francis.

The fans have discovered that chanting "We want Steve!" for nearly an entire quarter against the Blazers is not successful in swaying the coach’s decision, so short of some promotion that lets the fans coach the team for five minutes there’s nothing left to do but wait. Time will take its course and perhaps Francis will get into the end of some blowout or he’ll show during practice that he is worthy do more than sit on the floor in front of the bench and cheer for his new teammates. Maybe he’ll get the chance to show the world that he should be playing because he can help the team. Or maybe this was just a bad idea in the first place.

Don’t break up yet, guys. There’s still time to work it out.