The Knicks’ Steve Francis is AWOL and there’s not even a Super Bowl party for an excuse. From the NY Post’s Marc Berman.

As the Knicks gathered for practice today after a two-day Christmas Break, Steve Francis did not make it. He was delayed because of “fog” back in his hometown Maryland.

“Fog” is a good description on where Francis’ head is at right now. Isiah Thomas fined Francis for not showing up, even though he probably wasn’t going to play tomorrow vs. Detroit and even though he was back in Maryland on Christmas Day for a charity function for his Steve Francis Foundation.

Yes, Francis is stealing money – about $16 million this season. If Francis is angling for a medical retirement (the insurance would pay a good chunk of his remaining salary), the Knicks would probably be all for it. The Knicks will have just two guards tomorrow in Marbury and Jamal Crawford.

Kill Marbury all you want. But he wants to play basketball, wants to be a Knick. You can’t say that for Francis. Isiah must be killing himself for making the trade on Larry Brown’s behalf, giving up a sound prospect in Trevor Ariza. Check the standings. Orlando is doing quite well without Francis.

The LA Times’ Jason Reid
is amongst those who predict a Ron Artest/Corey Maggette swap between the Kings and Clips to happen sooner rather than later. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel assesess the likelihood of an Artest/Hedo Turkoglu trade by saying of the Tru Warier “to put it diplomatically, has been loony tunes throughout his NBA career.” I wasn’t aware we were expected to know all these clinical terms.

Randy Foye : not wearing a Sixers jersey as some of us figured last month, and bailing out the T-Wolves, who came very close to blowing a 25 point lead at home to Da Bulls.

I’m not sure which of the following two items is more satisfying ; Carmelo Anthony taking boxing lessons, or the significance of Shaq calling Phil Jackson “Benedict Arnold” being lost on history buff Kobe Bryant.