'They shouldn't have traded him'

BOSTON -- Steve Francis became close with Cuttino Mobley
during their six seasons as teammates, so the Orlando star was
upset when the Magic shipped his friend to Sacramento.

"They shouldn't have traded him," Francis said after a 119-101
loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, adding that he was
emotionally drained and distracted during the game.

Mobley was dealt shortly before tipoff with forward Michael Bradley to the Kings for guard Doug Christie. Mobley can become a
free agent after the season and Christie's defensive skills should
help a team that has allowed the most points per game in the NBA.

The Kings gave up Christie, their best defender and a team
leader, to add another scorer to their lineup. Mobley averaged 16
points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23 games with the Magic,
who acquired him from Houston along with Francis last summer in the
seven-player trade involving Tracy McGrady.

But Francis took the departure of his backcourt partner hard.

"I can't put it into words," he said. "Playing with a guy,
living with a guy, just knowing that every day when I wake up
that's something I can count on, that I'm going to be in practice
or in a game with Cuttino.

"Him not being here is going to be tough for me. I don't know
what I'm going to wake up for."

The Houston Rockets drafted Mobley in the second round in 1998
out of Rhode Island, then got Francis in a trade after Vancouver
took him in the first round in 1999 out of Maryland. They came to
Orlando with Kelvin Cato in the McGrady deal.

The trade helped the Magic, who are 18-15. Last season, they
didn't earn their 18th win until their 64th game.

"They messed up something that started so good, man," said
Francis, an All-Star the past three seasons. "I don't feel there
was a need to break something up just because he was going to be a
free agent and you don't want to pay him at the end of the season.

"You should have known that when you traded for him, so you
should have made that decision then."

Coach Johnny Davis understood Francis' disappointment and played
him only 27 minutes. Francis finished with 18 points but had only
two assists after averaging 7.2 going into the game.

"He's been with Cuttino for six or seven years now, and so it's
like losing someone close to you," Davis said. "It's a very
emotional time for Steve, and I understand that."

Davis said he found out shortly before the game that the deal
had been completed, but Francis was still upset.

"You don't wait 30 minutes before a game to tell a guy he's
traded," Francis said. "The way you handle relationships, for me,
is going to change the way that I approach the game, more
businesslike than anything."