Ex-Knicks guard Steve Francis leaves Chinese team

When the Chinese Basketball Association club Beijing Ducks signed former Knicks guard Steve Francis to a $800,000 contract for the 32-game 2010-11 season, they hoped he would draw fans. That's because Francis was a former teammate of Yao Ming's in Houston. But just two weeks into the season, Francis has left the team, having only 14 minutes (NBA.com). In fact, to the consternation of his coach, Min Lulei, Francis exited the arena midway through the Ducks' 104-89 victory over the Jiangsu Dragons on Sunday.

According to reports, the 33-year-old was out of shape and Lulei was willing to provide a personal trainer, but Francis merely asked for more game minutes. "I feel unhappy that I couldn't play the game," Francis said. "I know I was not well-prepared physically to help the team on court. As the team is in hot form, I think it is best for both sides for me to terminate my contract."

While Francis has left his Chinese team, another former Knicks point guard, Stephon Marbury, has switched Chinese teams (The Wall Street Journal). The former NBA All-Star, who spent last season with Shanxi Zhongyu and was prepared to return to the club in a multiyear deal, instead signed a one-year contract with Foshan Longshi last week. A Shanxi spokesman said that money wasn’t the issue. "We have some disagreements over the contract, but not because of the pay. Marbury raised some additional requirements that we couldn’t fulfill." According to Gustavus Bass, Marbury's chief financial officer, one of his client's main priorities was securing health insurance for his family, which Francis' contract included.

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