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What the Hell is Up With Steve Francis?

How many professionals cover the Knicks? Between all the beat writers, columnists, feature writers, TV reporters, radio reporters, national journalists based in New York, editors, producers, sports anchors, and everybody else... must be hundreds.

But nobody can tell us, in any meaningful way, what's going on with Steve Francis?

To me this is inexcusable: One of the highest paid players in the NBA, on what may be the most scrutinized team in the NBA, is taking nearly an entire season off for reasons that are vague but may have a lot to do with his not feeling like coming off the bench, and/or the reality that the coach who once coveted him is now gone.

I feel we fans should know what's really going on here. The money food chain that ends in Steve Francis's pocket starts in our pockets. If he's taking a season or more off, we should be told.

Similarly, if this truly is about an injury and nothing more, the man's good name should be liberated from the suggestions that this is an attitude-related break.

Yet we hear very little about the strange case of Steve Francis. Only slivers of information from here or there, which add up to not make much sense at all. Francis and the team are almost getting a free pass on this one, in a spray of innuendo and unconnected dots. What little we do know comes from the likes of Frank Isola (who tells us today, amid injury talk, that Francis is frustrated with his role on the team) and Howard Beck who tacks the following note onto his Knicks game story in The New York Times:

Steve Francis is out again, and it is entirely possible that he will not play for the Knicks again, either because of injury or other factors. Francis cited a flare-up of knee tendinitis and sat out Sunday’s game. He was not ready to declare his season over, but he would not rule it out either. Francis plans to meet Monday with Dr. Lisa Callahan, the Knicks’ director of player care. Francis said the pain was not as severe as it was in late December, when he shut himself down for six weeks, “but it feels like it’s about to get to that level.”

Francis has had a strange season. He spent a month rehabilitating his knee in Houston, amid speculation that the Knicks would buy out his contract. Francis and team officials denied it. But the timing of his latest injury is curious, coming right after the trading deadline. Francis last played on Wednesday, the night before the trading deadline. He sat out Friday’s game, with the team reporting he had flu-like symptoms. The team made no mention of knee troubles until just before Sunday’s game. Since the Knicks have been unable to trade Francis, a contract buyout seems likely.

Somebody, please. Find out what's happening here and tell us the deal.