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Tracy McGrady has officially been granted an indefinite leave from the team while the Rockets explore the possibility of trading The Big Sleep.
With Rockets coach Rick Adelman still unable to predict when McGrady will get significant playing time, McGrady’s representatives asked that the Rockets trade McGrady.
Morey declined comment on Monday.
McGrady will not play while the Rockets seek a trade. A person with knowledge of the Rockets talks with teams said no trade is imminent, but that the Rockets had not been very aggressive in seeking a deal.
McGrady is in the final season of the extension he signed with the Rockets before the 2004-05 season, making his expiring contract worth nearly $23 million potentially valuable to a team seeking to rid itself of rich, long-term contracts.
Rockets fans are not exactly broken up by the news, as illustrated at SB Nation's The Dream Shake.
Daryl Morey may be better off giving McGrady the Marbury/Iverson treatment and just telling McGrady to stay away from the team. Assuming McGrady isn't traded, his contract comes off the books next year and the Rockets will be under the cap with something like $15M to work with. This money will be quite useful in finding a replacement swingman while also attempting to re-sign Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and/or Kyle Lowry while also working extensions for Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry.
Kudos to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski for telling it like it is in his column on the Tracy McGrady saga.
This farce needs to end.
And it really does. There’s no way that a former superstar like McGrady, who, as Wojnarowski writes, hasn’t yet realized that his skills are rapidly declining, and a team like the Rockets, who have been succeeding in large part due to their precious chemistry, were going to work well together like this. They need to part ways.
Wojnarowski takes the Rockets to task for how they’ve handled the whole situation. Rockets fans are upset at McGrady for his behavior, and I don’t blame them, but the Rockets deserve criticism for holding McGrady out for longer than he would have liked and jerking around his minutes once he did get back. They tried to make it appear like they were doing McGrady right, but they really weren’t.
For T-Mac and the Rockets, this is a deteriorating partnership that’s becoming increasingly combustible. His comeback has been a futile, pointless exercise this season. "I don’t understand their plan," one NBA coach said Sunday. "Why bring him back at all to play eight minutes? They should send him away because it’s obvious Rick doesn’t want him around."
Two sources told Wojnarowski that the likely end result of McGrady’s agent’s talks with the Rockets over the next couple of days is McGrady leaving the team and returning to train with Tim Grover in Chicago. It seems pretty unprecedented, but it probably makes the most sense for both parties.
It appears we’re inching closer to Tracy McGrady’s final days as a member of the Houston Rockets.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets told McGrady he would not play in the Rockets’ two games last weekend (New Jersey on Saturday, Cleveland on Sunday) and gave him permission to fly home. This comes on the heels of McGrady expressing discontent about his role after the Rockets’ loss to Orlando last Wednesday, when he quipped to reporters about his “cameo” role.
A trade seems to be the next logical step, and indeed, according to CBS Sportsline’s Ken Berger, McGrady’s agent is expected to talk to the Rockets about that possibility. Houston’s GM Daryl Morey continues to deny that the Rockets were showcasing McGrady for a trade, and coach Rick Adelman told Feigen he’s still trying to figure out a way to get McGrady in the teams’ rotation, but the writing seems to be on the wall.
We all should have expected this once McGrady and the team sparred over McGrady’s comeback date. The Rockets are overachieving with a roster of hard-working role players that exhibit great chemistry, and it’s clear they were worried McGrady’s return would disrupt that balance. McGrady, for his part, clearly has personal motivation to come back, since he’s going to be a free agent and may not get another chance to get a long-term contract. Irresistible force, meet unmovable object.
A divorce seems inevitable, and it’s probably best for both parties. Houston should be able to get some value for McGrady’s large expiring contract at some point this season, and McGrady might feel rejuvenated elsewhere, particularly if he goes to a team out of the playoff race that will give him playing time. It’s just a matter of when.
Tracy McGrady is a player whose reputation exceeds his game at this point. Tracy McGrady is also a player who has an expiring contract (a very large one, in fact). Therefore, it was only a matter of time until someone like Newsday's Alan Hahn would write about how the Knicks were interested in trading for Tracy McGrady.
Over at The Dream Shake, SB Nation's Houston Rockets blog, Tom Martin discusses the rumor and eventually votes against trading McGrady to the Knicks right now.
Martin lists several reasons for not trading McGrady to the Knicks. Because McGrady is coming off microfracture surgery, the Rockets do not know what they have in him until he plays a few games. In addition, Martin is not enamored with the potential package the Knicks are offering, which is headlined by Eddy Curry and Wilson Chandler. Finally, if the Rockets really were worried about McGrady disrupting team chemistry, they could just bench him (which you could argue they're already doing) and achieve the same results.
There is one caveat, however. Martin said he would consider a McGrady-to-Knicks trade if draft picks were involved.
One Knicks source that I talked to discussed the possibility that the Knicks throw in a protected 2012 first round pick as well as a 2010 second round pick, or something of that nature. If this were to ever be offered (D'Antoni has a long history of trading first rounders), then I think Daryl Morey would have to at least consider it. Any chance to find more talent for the long run needs to be looked at.
In the end, this is all speculation, which is why I think it's kind of silly that I'm discussing it myself. However, I thought you'd like to see the possibilites of a deal with the Knicks. At least you've got a decent idea of what would be at stake. Personally, I'd like to hold onto McGrady for now, but like I said, if draft picks are in the equation, it becomes much more interesting.
The results from the MRI that Tracy McGrady was scheduled to get yesterday came back, and the news was good for McGrady.
According to Rockets head orthopedic surgeon Dr. Walter Lowe, McGrady's MRI revealed no additional damage, meaning McGrady is on a normal course of recovery. Rockets.com's Jason Friedman quotes Lowe on his Twitter account:
Statement from Rockets Head Orthopedic Dr. Walter Lowe following Rockets G Tracy McGrady’s MRI: ”Today's MRI showed no change from the test previously conducted in September. Tracy is on a normal course of recovery and has the expected level of performance for someone at his stage following microfracture surgery. We will continue to monitor his progress over the coming weeks to ensure that pain and swelling are kept to a minimum after further periods of practice participation."
McGrady's healthy now and he's practicing, yet there's no timetable for his return yet. This makes no sense ... until you consider that the Rockets are rolling along just fine without him. Might that say something about how much the Rockets really want McGrady back? I won't come out and say it, but you guys can put two and two together.
Obviously Tracy McGrady's knee checked out fine, because he practiced today and said he felt good. He told reporters that it felt like a normal practice and said he is ready to play right now if the Rockets let him.
Here's video, courtesy Rockets.com.
Tracy McGrady still wants to play right now, but the Rockets continue to insist that he stay cautious and only play when he is fully cleared medically.
The next step for a potential McGrady return occurred Monday, as McGrady was supposed to get an MRI on his injured knee. The results have not come back yet, but if McGrady checks out, then he’ll probably want to get back on the court even more than he did before.
At that point, can the Rockets really tell him he isn’t ready yet? Unless the Rockets trade him — there’s reported interest from the Knicks due to his expiring contract — they might reach a point where they have to play him even if they’d rather not.
Was the argument between Tracy McGrady and Rick Adelman over when McGrady returns to the lineup even an argument? Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle quotes both parties saying that it wasn’t. Both say they did have a discussion, but it didn’t get heated.
“It’s not even an issue,” McGrady said. “If coach tells you something different, I’d be surprised. I’m here to play basketball. I’m not here to be a distraction. I’ve been through enough of that drama last year. I’m not going to let it start this year, at all.”
McGrady said that voices were not raised during their conversation.
“No question about it,” he said. “I’m not that type of person and you know coach is not.”
Adelman did not seem upset on Wednesday. McGrady had gone through his usual pregame workout before he returned to the locker room and later changed into his uniform while Adelman conducted his pregame media interview. Adelman later laughed when told that McGrady was in uniform.
Adelman said on Friday that when they met, the conversation did not get loud, but that McGrady did not want to wait for next week to make his season debut.
Later in the article, McGrady said he only put on his jersey because he was “excited” and because he felt it was “refreshing” to don it. I don’t know if I believe that one. But I do believe that it’s possible Adrian Wojnarowski’s “sources” misinterpreted the tone of the conversation.
News has been relatively quiet on the McGrady front since last week, but even then, it seemed a conflict might be brewing. And after McGrady's targeted return this past Wednesday came and went with no sign of the superstar on the court, it seems that the conflict has boiled over. McGrady reportedly got into a heated argument with his head coach Rick Adelman, and is having serious doubts about whether the Rockets want him back. (See earlier update?)
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story:
The argument was precipitated when McGrady arrived at the Target Center in Minneapolis so determined to have a substantive discussion with his coach that he dressed in his game uniform and undertook his pregame routine as though he hadn’t been activated after missing 41 straight games with microfracture surgery on his left knee.
As McGrady walked back to the locker room after shooting with his teammates on the court, he passed Adelman in a corridor and his appearance in uniform appeared to surprise his coach. The fact McGrady had asked the equipment manager to bring out his uniform – especially on the Nov. 18 date that he had recently told Yahoo! Sports was his target for a return – clearly had his coach’s attention. [...]
“Tracy was just determined to make Rick talk to him,” a source close to McGrady said. “That’s why he put on the uniform and went through all that. … He wanted to get his attention. He’d like to know if he’s wanted back or not.”
Sources say McGrady has started to wonder whether the Rockets want him back with this team, or whether they’ve been motivated to let him sit and collect on insurance money. Assuming that McGrady is covered under the NBA’s Temporary Total Disability (TTD) insurance policy, Houston can start to collect up to 80 percent of his prorated per-game salary after he’s missed 41 consecutive games. McGrady sat out his 42nd straight game Wednesday in Minnesota, and the league insurance plan would reimburse the Rockets for any additional missed games.
For the rest of the season, the insurance policy could cover 80 percent of his per-game salary of $282,946.
As we mentioned earlier, it's not entirely unreasonable for McGrady to wonder whether the Rockets really want him back. Just the same, it's reasonable that the Rockets don't really want him back. They've got unparalleled chemistry right now in Houston; What they've lacked in pure talent they've made up for with cohesion and effort, leading to a surprising 7-5 record. With the franchise inevitably feeling the effects of a down economy--and insurance covering most of an injured McGrady's salary--it just compounds the issue. Do the Rockets want him back? Maybe not, and it might be best for everyone if McGrady stayed away.
That is, everyone except Tracy McGrady. He's been plagued by injuries and disappointment for the better part of his 12-year career in the NBA, and last year may have been the biggest setback yet. He didn't handle the injury well and, indeed, the way he abruptly announced to the media--not the Rockets--that he'd be getting surgery was downright unprofessional. But he's still a basketball player that loves to play basketball.
So while you can understand the Rockets' stance, here, it's hard not to likewise sympathize with McGrady. He's been injured for the last 12 months, endured terrible surgery and rehab, and now, he wants to get back on the court and play. If he can't do that in Houston, then it might just have to happen elsewhere.
McGrady's $22 million salary expires after this season, and contrary to a malcontent like Stephen Jackson, this sort of conflict with Adelman is pretty much an isolated incident. Under the Adelman-Morey regime, he's bristled, but partly because there's ample evidence that neither coach nor GM really likes the superstar. Tolerates, would be more accurate. Now, though, comes the real question:
Given all this, could McGrady and his expiring salary find a home elsewhere this season?
Today, Houston Coach Rick Adelman told the Houston Chronicle that there’s no timetable set for McGrady’s return:
“The biggest thing in talking to him is he doesn’t have the pain he had last year,” Adelman said. “He still has a long ways to go as far as running the court, moving, defensively, those types of things. The biggest thing in his mind is last year he had a definite limp. He does not have that. Coming off that (microfracture) surgery, you’re not going to have that explosiveness. You’re not going to have the quickness.”
The Rockets also might not be as equipped as last season to adjust if McGrady needs to work his way back.
“We are not the same team we were last year,” Adelman said. “We had Yao (Ming) and things we could fall back on and work him in, work him out. We don’t have that capability this year. Anytime you throw any player in to the mix it’s going to impact the team.”
Does anyone else get the feeling that Houston is perfectly happy playing without McGrady? The chemistry in Houston is on par with the best teams in the league, and McGrady, however decorated an NBA superstar, is not exactly a favorite son of Houston’s management right now. Or for the past year, for that matter.
The Chronicle alluded to this in yesterday’s column:
Rockets coach Rick Adelman was livid at the way the announcement was handled. McGrady described it as a misunderstanding, and really, going public with the decision before discussing it privately did no harm. It wasn’t the announcement that ended his season.
A season later, however, he clearly has not learned from the experience, or simply does not care if the Rockets object to his announcements. He said during the summer that he was 99 percent back and would be ready to practice with the team at the start of training camp. Things did not work out that way. According to the Rockets, he still has not gone through a full practice.
For anyone that’s followed the situation in Houston over the past twelve months, you’ve seen two disparate storylines. On the one hand, you’ve got a feel-good bunch of very good role players, surpassing expectations and delighting fans and management alike. On the other, you’ve got McGrady, the league’s highest paid player, who announced that he’d need season-ending surgery without consulting with the team, and without giving Rockets GM Daryl Morey an opportunity to explore trade scenarios. You don’t just wake up one day and need microfracture surgery.
McGrady had to have seen it coming, or at least knew there was something wrong with his knee. But instead of keeping in touch with Morey, he kept to himself, and then independently decided to have surgery. Not exactly what you’re looking for out of a guy that’s making a league-high $23 million.
So now that the Rockets have weathered the storm that McGrady’s injury created, is it really all that surprising that Houston’s management and coaching staff might be weary of McGrady, and in no rush to bring him back into the fold? The Rockets won’t get that much better with McGrady, and his presence risks disrupting a core that’s evolved into a rather compelling, if overachieving, bunch of young players.
Think about it. Overpaid, overrated, injury-prone, and selfish—Tracy McGrady is the exact opposite of what’s made Houston a good team over the past year. Would you want him back?
From SB Nation’s The Dream Shake, some thoughts on McGrady’s return:
First, the most pressing question revolves around T-Mac’s actual ability. What can we expect from post-microfracture? If he is healthy “again,” what does that mean? The answers to those questions are basically unknowable until McGrady gets on the court again. Reports look good, but that doesn’t really mean much. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that unless McGrady can return to pre-‘07-’08 form, he is not much of an upgrade over what we have now.
Second, what does Adelman actually do with Tracy? McGrady’s e-mail (or at least how it was reported) suggests he expects to be a part of the starting lineup upon return, but we all know that seems either unlikely or undesirable. It has been almost a year since McGrady last played competitive basketball, and well over a year since he last played quality basketball.
When McGrady is healthy (and it has been years since he was last healthy for any meaningful length of time), his skillset is unique and invaluable. He’s a premier scorer, has excellent court vision and ball control, and he rebounds effectively. And if he feels like it he can defend at an elite level, too.
But we have no idea of what we’re going to get when McGrady returns. So perhaps the expectation (on the part of both McGrady and the fans) should be that Tracy starts off on the bench, switching out with Ariza while he gets back on his feet. After that…
Well, that’s a larger question, isn’t it?
Indeed, with the Rockets sitting at 4-2 heading into tonight’s game vs. Dallas, McGrady returns not as some white knight ready to save a hapless team, but as a potentially disruptive force that’ll have to be assimilated carefully and with some measure of patience. He hasn’t played in more than a year, and the Rockets have adopted something of a new identity in his and Yao Ming’s absence. Where offense used to revolve around two superstars, today, the Rockets feature a balanced attack, compensating for what could be considered a lack of overall talent by playing smart, tough basketball. Is McGrady ready to be a part of that?
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets and Tracy McGrady are not yet on the same page with this whole “comeback” thing:
He said during the summer that he was 99 percent back and would be ready to practice with the team at the start of training camp. Things did not work out that way. According to the Rockets, he still has not gone through a full practice.
Then on Monday, in an email to Yahoo! Sports, he said he would play next Wednesday.
The problem with that was that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had already said on Monday that nothing had changed in McGrady’s timetable, that he won’t play until the team considers him to be 100 percent and that he would need to be checked out in a full practice before he will be permitted to play a game.
Next full practice? Nov. 23.
[Rockets GM Daryl] Morey released a statement Monday evening saying “no timetable has been set for his return.”
According to reports, Tracy McGrady will be back in action for the Houston Rockets in little more than a week. November 18th, vs. the Timberwolves, to be exact. He shared his thoughts in an e-mail to Yahoo! Sports:
"Excited to get back and compete at a high level again. For a full year I had to play on one leg against the best and I couldn’t compete with anybody the way I was feeling."
"It’s gonna be a relief to get out there and play knowing what I went [through] last season and this summer."
And indeed, if we're getting a McGrady with two healthy legs, than this is some pretty awesome news. He's been snake bitten with misfortune for a good bit of his career, so it'd be nice to see him go out with a happy ending and a few more great seasons. If not, at least we can enjoy more jokes about those sleepy eyes:
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