Blog Entry

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Posted on: December 16, 2009 12:44 pm
CHICAGO -- Tracy McGrady returned to the Houston Rockets Tuesday night, and the fans cheered. T-Mac hit a 3-pointer, his only points during an eight-minute stint, and all was right in Rocket Land again. Right?

No, not so much.

McGrady's comeback is only part of a larger plan to increase his minutes and prove his worth to a team willing to take a chance on his once-breathtaking ability to score and benefit from his $23 million expiring contract at the same time. The Rockets were 14-10 this season without Yao Ming and McGrady, and now the only question is how long they'll have to keep up the charade until McGrady is in good enough condition to help another team.

"The plan is to increase his minutes because they’re gonna trade him," said a person familiar with the Rockets' plans. "I know they are. It doesn’t do them any good to have him playing eight minutes a game on that contract. They’ll find somebody, and there are plenty of teams that are interested, in spite of the contract."

In fact, there will be plenty of teams interested because of that contract. McGrady's $23 million salary comes with two built-in perks: It comes off the books on July 1, 2010, making it a vehicle for clearing cap space for the highly anticipated free-agent signing period, and it's 80 percent insurance-protected. The insurance provision already has kicked in, since McGrady missed 41 consecutive games during his recovery from microfracture knee surgery. The Rockets, or McGrady's new team, would receive 80 percent of his per-game salary for any games he misses the rest of this season.

Any number of teams desperate for short-term scoring punch while they prepare for a 2010 spending spree would be obvious fits; the Bulls and Knicks are at the top of my list. The Heat reportedly also are intrigued by McGrady, and team president Pat Riley is said to be closely monitoring T-Mac's progress.

On Wednesday, I brought all of this information to someone who is personally invested in McGrady's success -- Tim Grover, the renowned trainer at Attack Athletics on the West Side of Chicago. Grover famously trained Michael Jordan and has recently worked with such stars as Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, and McGrady. Grover wouldn't speculate on the Rockets' motives with regard to T-Mac, but said McGrady's debut Tuesday night was "long overdue."

"I wasn’t down in Houston, and I don’t know what the situation was or why they felt they needed to hold him out this long," Grover said. "Obviously, they had their reasons. They must have found something they wanted to be cautious with. The end result is we're happy to have him back on the floor."

Grover didn't merely help McGrady recover from microfracture surgery, which despite its name is a major procedure requiring months and months of rehab. He reinvented McGrady's body, which had no core strength when he got to Grover's gym.

"We took care of every single issue that he ever had -- the knee, the back, everything that’s ever bothered him in the past," Grover said. "We realigned his body and balanced everything out and made it much stronger and got a lot of his explosiveness back. Now getting back mentally 100 percent is the challenge. And the only way to do that is go out there and compete against NBA players."

At least McGrady is doing that now. Though in a perfect world, he won't be doing it in a Rockets jersey for much longer.

Since: Dec 20, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2009 12:36 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

I know McGrady has been hurt, but the guy is a talent, and a star the Bulls might actually be able to obtain.  I saw what Salmons did in the playoffs with the Bulls, the guy was solid.  However they need another big SG with an outside shot to make up for Salmons inconsistency.  I say get McGrady, and then go after Carlos Boozer.  A PF with a jumper and not scared to score on the post.  The Bulls don't need to be wishing on getting Lebron, Bosh, Johnson, or Dwade cause they are not coming here.  Get McGrady and Boozer now while you can.

Since: Dec 22, 2008
Posted on: December 17, 2009 7:12 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Is this person drunk? Try spell check sometime.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2009 4:30 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

The Rockets may want to trade him, but the fans in Houston still like the guy...And they only have to pay what ...4.6 million of the 23 million thanks to insurance...I'm sure as the season moves on and McGrady gets into game shape, having him back is almost like making a trade...They aren't going to win a title this year anyways, but at least T-Mac will fill some seats...I think it would be pointless to trade him unless you were getting a mid first rounder or another good player with a decent contract...

Since: Jan 24, 2009
Posted on: December 17, 2009 3:31 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Obviously the insurance money kicked in that is what they've been waiting for.They will only trade him for the right players why wouldn't u play him and let his 23 million come off your books at seasons end unless u get expiring contracts back.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2009 3:10 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Ken - this is what I don't understand: what do the Rockets want in return?

I thought that they wanted cap space, so why wouldn't they keep a massive expiring contract that's 80% insured? Are they willing to take on salary for T-Mac if the incoming talent is good enough, or are they just trying to trade him for a different (uninsured) expiring contract?

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2009 2:18 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

No team should touch Tracy McGrady, including the Rockets. I'm sure he'll be vapor by Februrary 1st and go to the Bulls(going nowhere) or Knicks(also going nowhere). Why one of those teams, and not another...someone who needs a little scoring from a shooting guard. I certainly hope he goes to the would be the crowning jewel for Pat Riley. Really??? Last time I looked, they have a pretty good 2 guard already...

Frankly, I hope he returns to form, but he's been so brittle recently, I just don't trust the guy, plus he always shot a little too much for my taste. I don't think the Rockets will get much for him, but if it cuts their salary cap issues, I think it would be good. I like the Rockets with Yao Ming, but not, see ya later Tracy.

Since: Dec 17, 2009
Posted on: December 17, 2009 2:13 pm

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Why does everyone keep saying Houston will trade T-Mac?  Houston can use the 23 million that comes off the books next year also.  Houston can get info the free agent frenzy.  Why would they take on bad contracts just to get rid of him, when he only has 1 year left and they could use the cap room next year???????????????????//

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2009 11:56 am

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

Depending on who the Knicks would have to give up for him, I think it could work out for them. I believe the proposed deal is Harrington, Jeffries, and Mobley. If this is the case, even though I like Harrington in the Knicks system, the Knicks might have to do that deal for a few reasons.
(1) The Knicks would rid themselves of Jeffries contract which could help them keep Lee next year along with a top notch star
(2) Mcgrady is a much better ball handler than Harrington and could help create more easy buckets 
(3) Mcgrady could also be the late game "go-to guy" for the Knicks who have lacked such a player since Houston/Sprewell days 
(4) The Knicks would essentially be renting him for 6 months, if he proves his worth in that time he would help the Knicks improve in the standings (Knicks 1st round pick in 2010 belongs to Jazz) and maybe sneak into the playoffs. Also, his good play could enhance the Knicks chances of attracting a top free agent and maybe that would incline him to re-sign next season with the Knicks for a "discount price" with a chance to win a championship

I think the deal would also help the Rockets who could use extra bodies right now, and the offense of Harrington. And even though they are not high on Jeffries, he actually fits the mold of that team pretty well (good help defender with length and speed). I actually think the Rockets should take the chance on Curry who still has some upside and can fill an empty void at the center position, this would help the Knicks 2010 plan even more (however I do think the Knicks will waive him after the season if the are unable to move him).

The only way I don't pull the trigger on the deal is if it includes David Lee. Otherwise, I think you will see it happen.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: December 17, 2009 11:42 am

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

McGrady win a championship?  He could start by winning a first round playoff series.

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2009 4:31 am

T-Mac returns, but for who? For what?

I say the 76ers go after him.  The two greatest scores to never win it all on the same team?  Priceless.  I love McGrady.  I would love to see him win a championship, but I just don't know if it can happen. 

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