The way has been cleared for the Orlando Magic to send Tracy McGrady to the Houston Rockets in exchange for all-star guard Steve Francis, and the two teams are expected to complete the deal sometime next week, a source close to the talks said.
Last week, Orlando agreed to trade McGrady, Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue for Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato. Before the deal could be closed, however, Francis raised objections.
Francis's concerns were addressed early Friday morning, just hours after Thursday night's NBA draft, when Magic President John Weisbrod spoke to the 6-foot-3 guard over the phone. Weisbrod convinced Francis that Orlando would be the right spot for him.
"They seem to have a common desire for winning," said Jeff Fried, Francis's agent. "I think John really impressed Steve with his and the team's plans on what they want to accomplish."
Said Weisbrod: "I think the two of us connected."
Fried and Weisbrod said that deal has yet to be completed. But a source close to the talks said that Francis's objections were the only snag holding up the trade.
A former star at the University of Maryland, Francis will fly to Orlando early next week, a source said, presumably to be in town when the Magic officially announces the deal.
Francis, who led the Rockets to their first postseason appearance in five years, initially balked at the prospect of going to a team that was rebuilding. Last season, the Magic finished with a 21-61 record, worst in the league.
According to a source, Fried had queried at least five other NBA teams about their interest in obtaining Francis from Orlando if he was traded there.
Francis's skittishness prodded the Magic into postponing talks until after Thursday night's draft, according to newspaper reports.
"Steve's principle concern was the manner with which the trade talks had transpired," Fried said. "John's discussion with Steve addressed the team concept and likewise alleviated Steve's initial concerns regarding [the Magic's] rebuilding process."
Orlando chose Atlanta prep star Dwight Howard with the No.1 pick, which may have also sweetened the deal for Francis.
The Magic began seeking offers for McGrady after he told the team he would leave as a free agent at the end of next season if the Magic didn't trade him.
-- Greg Sandoval