Wednesday , Feb , 22 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Francis heads to Knicks for Hardaway, Ariza

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Steve Francis has joined Stephon Marbury
in the New York backcourt, as Orlando’s one-time franchise player is headed to
the Big Apple in exchange for former Magic guard Anfernee Hardaway and second-
year forward Trevor Ariza.

The addition of Francis gives the Knicks a potent starting backcourt, with
Jamal Crawford coming off the bench. The deal, along with the addition of
Jalen Rose via trade with Toronto in early February, continues team president
Isiah Thomas’ rebuilding project. New York’s 15-37 record is the second-worst
mark in the NBA.

“This is a trade that we all feel makes us a better basketball team for both
now and in the future,” Thomas said. “In Steve, we add an all-star caliber
player to our team without giving up core assets that are key to our
future.”

Francis was averaging 16.2 points, 5.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds with the
Magic this season. Those totals are all below his career averages of 19.4
points, 6.4 assists and six rebounds in six-plus seasons with the Houston
Rockets and Magic.

The trade gives Orlando plenty of payroll flexibility in the coming
seasons, as the Magic will be looking to build around 20-year-old power
forward Dwight Howard.

“As an organization, you always look for ways to improve your team, both
presently and in the future,” said Magic assistant general manager Otis Smith.
“The moves we have made today and last week (Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo
from Detroit) continue to build a solid foundation around our core players,
such as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. In addition, this particular deal has
allowed us to gain significant salary cap flexibility in the future.”

Ariza gives Howard some frontline assistance, as the second-year player has
averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 116 career games (22 starts). In
increased minutes this season, Ariza has averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds.

On the other hand, Hardaway will most likely have a short reunion in Orlando.
The guard hasn’t played since a December 9 loss to Phoenix and has averaged
just 2.5 points in four games this season. Hardaway has averaged 15.4 points,
5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 13 NBA seasons.

The Magic also waived forward Bo Outlaw on Wednesday.

NYK ORL