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Clippers unable to reel in Francis

July 20, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Clippers will have to look elsewhere to bolster their point-guard position after one of their main free-agent targets, Steve Francis, signed a two-year contract Thursday with the Houston Rockets reportedly worth $6 million.

Francis chose the surroundings of a familiar place over a possible reunion with ex-teammate Cuttino Mobley on the Clippers. Francis was a three-time All-Star with the Rockets before being traded in 2004.

The first year of Francis' contract is guaranteed, and the second year is a player option.

"The Clippers were on as short a list as you can get," said Francis' agent, Jeff Fried. "There was an overall comfort level because he's had a primary house in Houston. He loves the city and the organization. These are factors that all came into play."

Francis, 30, probably would have played quite a bit for the Clippers because Shaun Livingston is recovering from a severe knee injury and Sam Cassell turns 38 in November.

"We've already moved on," Clippers spokesman Joe Safety said. "We'll keep working it until we get what we need."

Brevin Knight is one of the few remaining possibilities for the Clippers in a rapidly shrinking market for free-agent point guards. Mo Williams re-signed with Milwaukee, Steve Blake signed with Portland, Derek Fisher signed with the Lakers and former Clipper Jason Hart signed with Utah.

Francis recently received a buyout from Portland for almost $31 million. He was traded last month from New York to Portland as part of the Zach Randolph trade. He averaged 11.3 points last season with New York.

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