February 22, 2006

Knicks acquire guard Steve Francis from Magic

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The floundering New York Knicks on
Wednesday acquired three-time NBA All-Star guard Steve Francis
from the Orlando Magic in exchange for swingman Anfernee
Hardaway and forward Trevor Ariza.

Francis, 29, joins Stephon Marbury to give the Knicks
(15-37) one of the most expensive backcourt duos in the NBA,
while Orlando (19-33), adds a young player in Ariza and
enhances their salary cap posture with Hardaway, whose $15.75
million salary comes off the cap at the end of the season.

The trade sends the Knicks in the other fiscal direction.
Barring further moves ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, New
York will be above $130 million in payroll after adding
Francis, who is owed $49 million over the next three seasons.

"This is a trade that we all feel makes us a better
basketball team for both now and in the future," Knicks General
Manager Isiah Thomas said on the team's Web site. "In Steve, we
add an all-star caliber player to our team without giving up
core assets that are key to our future."

Francis, 6-3 was averaging 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and
5.7 assists in 46 games this season for Orlando. The six-year
NBA veteran had career averages of 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds
and 6.5 assists in 452 career games for the Houston Rockets and
Magic entering this season.

"Acquiring a player of Steve's level and talent is very
exciting for this team," Knicks head coach Larry Brown said.

Ariza, 6-7, was selected in the second round of the 2004
NBA Draft by New York and was averaging 4.6 points and 19.7
minutes in 36 games this season.

Hardaway, 6-7, was acquired by the Knicks from Phoenix in
January 2004. He was averaging 2.5 points and 17.9 minutes in
just four games played with New York this season.

Orlando also announced that the team had waived forward Bo
Outlaw to make room on its roster. Outlaw appeared in 14 games
for Orlando, averaging 1.6 points and 2.4 rebounds.

"The moves we have made today and last week (obtaining
Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo from Detroit) continue to build
a solid foundation around our core players, such as Dwight
Howard and Jameer Nelson," Otis Smith, assistant general
manager of the Magic, said on the team's Web site.

"In addition, this particular deal has allowed us to gain
significant salary cap flexibility in the future."

Hardaway spent his first six seasons with the Magic,
appearing in 369 games and averaging 19.0 points, 6.3 assists
and 4.7 rebounds 1993 to 1999.