NBA Rockets get McGrady in deal with Orlando



The league's scoring leader will join forces with 7-foot-5 Yao Ming.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Forget about Hollywood. The NBA's most intriguing duo now belongs to Houston.
League scoring leader Tracy McGrady will team with 7-foot-5 center Yao Ming next season after being traded to the Rockets on Tuesday in a blockbuster deal that sends Steve Francis to the Orlando Magic.
The trade, in the works for nearly two weeks, also sent forward Juwan Howard and guards Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines to the Rockets. The Magic get guard Cuttino Mobley and forward Kelvin Cato in return.
"I just knew it was going to take time," McGrady told ESPN on Tuesday night. "I'm happy and it's time to move on."
Deal finalized Tuesday
The trade was finalized after Francis met with Magic general manager John Weisbrod and other team officials in Orlando on Tuesday. The Rockets will introduce McGrady, Howard, Lue and Gaines today.
McGrady, a two-time scoring champion, now joins Yao to form an All-Star combination that could be as dominant as the Los Angeles Lakers' championship twosome of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
"I sure hope so," McGrady said. "I can't predict the future, but it definitely would be nice. The ultimate goal is to win a championship for the Houston Rockets."
And with the Lakers splintering apart since losing in this year's NBA Finals, Houston immediately looks like a serious contender in the Western Conference.
The Rockets' union figures to be much more harmonious than the one in Los Angeles.
Heavy load with Magic
McGrady signed with the Magic in 2000, thinking he and Grant Hill could push an up-and-coming squad over the top. But Hill's injured left ankle limited him to 37 games in four seasons, and McGrady's load grew heavier each year.
Tired of carrying a mediocre franchise, McGrady vowed to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract that was to go into effect at the end of next season. Orlando wasn't going to let him leave without compensation -- like O'Neal did eight years ago.
McGrady, 25, becomes the fourth defending scoring champion in NBA history to be dealt away, and the first since the Buffalo Braves sent Bob McAdoo to the New York Knicks in 1976.
Francis, a three-time All-Star, averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season to join Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Hill as the only players to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in each of their first five NBA seasons.
Francis, Mobley and Yao led the Rockets to the playoffs last season for the first time in five years. Houston lost to Los Angeles in the first round.