Monday , Nov , 19 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Houston Rockets Should Play Steve Francis Or Let Him Move On

During the first ten games of the season, Francis hadn’t seen the court. Houston coach Rick Adelman had no room in the playing rotation, so the former All-Star stacked-up ‘did not play-coaches decisions’ like a rookie on a minimum contract. With Tracy McGrady on the sideline nursing a sore elbow, Francis got a 23 minute run in the Rockets 115-105 loss against the Suns on Saturday evening …

He’s no longer The Franchise, but last night Steve Francis showed he has plenty to offer the Houston Rockets or another NBA team.

Heading into yesterday’s contest, the Rockets had played 10 games, and Francis hadn’t seen the court. Houston coach Rick Adelman had no room in his playing rotation, so the former All-Star stacked-up ‘did not play-coaches decisions’ like a rookie on a minimum contract.

With Tracy McGrady on the sideline nursing a sore elbow, Francis got a 23 minute run in the Rockets 115-105 loss against the Suns on Saturday evening.

Pro athletes never like moral victories, but Francis’ play was a positive for a suddenly slumping Houston squad.

His numbers were so-so: 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal. However, there was plenty to like:

  • Francis exuded positive body language. Throughout his career, he’s earned a rep for on-court pouting and showboating. Last night, there was none of that. Francis maintained his composure and seemed to enjoy himself.
  • In the past, Francis got caught over dribbling on the perimeter. On Saturday, he distributed the ball and mostly played within the offense.
  • Francis ran a nice two-man game with post Luis Scola. He used the Argentine’s screen to get open and then drained a deep jumper.
  • His trademark explosiveness is still there, too. In the second quarter, Francis took his man off the dribble, drove to the basket, and drew a blocking foul on Boris Diaw.

Following the game, Francis acknowledged the support he has received from Houston fans.   

"It’s been great," Francis said of the crowd’s reaction. "They’ve been sticking behind me no matter what. Hopefully, this is a start for me to continue to get playing time, trying to help this team win."  (Associated Press)

So will Francis get regular minutes? A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests this may become an issue:

We hear Tracy McGrady has been lobbying to get Francis more burn, with no luck. Can’t understand why the Rockets brought him back if they’re not going to throw him a bone, because it’s just a matter of time before he explodes.

So far, Francis has been professional and accepted his role. But the story in the Inquirer is right-the former All-Star will surely get frustrated being chained to the bench. This is understandable.

Houston should make a decision on Francis before the situation escalates. Give him more playing time or let him move on. Anything else is unfair.

Does Francis deserve minutes based on Saturday’s performance? Get at us in the comment box with your thoughts.

Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA Blog.