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Why Rockets traded Steve Francis

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07:31 AM ET 12.26 | The Steve Francis-to-Memphis deal was not just to create room to sign Dikembe Mutombo without getting a luxury tax hit. The Rockets wanted to move under the luxury tax line, anyway, and will like heading into the six weeks before the trade deadline without the tax hanging over their head. They do, however, still want Dikembe back. This was the plan all along. Move salary before the first of the year. Sign Mutombo. The hitch is that there was so little indication that the deal would get done that the Rockets could not promise Mutombo that it was coming, and he began looking for options, finding Boston and San Antonio. The Rockets never shared the impression held by many fans that signing Mutombo would be a make-or-break move. He and Yao Ming played in the same game just 14 times last season, with Mutombo averaging fewer than two minutes of playing time in those games.

Houston Chronicle

Dikembe Mutombo, Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images Dikembe Mutombo, Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

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