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Beijing denies Francis let go


Agence France-Presse



BEIJING - The Beijing Ducks on Monday denied that former NBA All-Star Steve Francis had been released amid widespread media reports the troubled guard's brief stint in China was at an end.

"These reports are all false -- the Beijing Ducks have not announced to any media that (Francis) has been released," assistant team manager Yuan Zhao told AFP by telephone.

"At present we are in discussions with him -- that is all I can say."

Francis, 33, did not play in Beijing's 104-89 win over Jiangsu Dragons on Sunday, fuelling speculation that the Chinese Basketball Association career of the former Houston Rocket was over.

According to the CBA site on popular Internet portal sina.com, Francis's unnamed Chinese agent confirmed that the guard would be released by the team.

In about two weeks with the Ducks, Francis -- a three-time NBA All-Star and former teammate of star Chinese centre Yao Ming -- played in four games, averaging 0.5 points and 0.7 rebounds in about three minutes per match.

During that time, Beijing has won five games and lost one, in one of its best-ever starts to a CBA season.

Francis reportedly signed an $800,000-contract to play with Beijing for the 32-game season.

Earlier this month, the league slapped him with a "serious warning" for an indecent gesture he made as he sat on the bench during Beijing's 80-78 win over reigning league champions Guangdong Tigers.

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