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With the Tracy McGrady/Coach Rick Adelman situation apparently at an impasse, T-Mac has been granted an indefinite leave of absence from the Rockets while management decides on where and for whom they will trade him. Are the Rockets justified in their actions, or are they acting on hurt feelings over lost money paid to McGrady for the number of missed games over his tenure with the franchise? One thing is for sure: T-Mac has likely played his last game in a Rockets uniform, so where is he most likely to wind up?
1) New York Knicks
This rumor has been floating around for some time now, since McGrady first voiced his displeasure with not being activated during the early part of the season. Even though the Knicks are stock-piling cash to be prime players in the 2010 Summer of free agency, theywould be willing to take on T-Mac’s monstrous $23 million price tag, since it would come off the books at the end of the season. Attempting to resign McGrady, one of the game’s most dynamic players, at a much lower amount before the end of the season would undoubtedly help to entice one of next summer’s free agents. The Rockets would be forced to take back either Jarred Jeffries’ or Eddy Curry’s bloated contracts, both of which have killed the Knicks’ ability to make deals to improve their current roster in this throw-away season. Another team may be needed to match up all the high salaries. Could we see Lebron, McGrady, and John Wall playing for the Knicks next season?
2) Chicago Bulls
It is well known around the league that the Bulls are primed to rebuild their roster after such a disappointing season centered around Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Tyrus Thomas is the name that has been floated around as trade bait, since the Bulls are apparently happy with the improvements of Noah and rookie Taj Gibson in the frontcourt. Brad Miller’s $12 million contract and Jerome James’ $6+ million would have to be accepted by the Rockets in a trade, which would be rather tough to swallow. Resigning McGrady past this season would also be beneficial in luring Chicago-native Dwyane Wade and other free agents to come play for the Bulls next season. A 1-2-3 punch of Rose, Wade, and T-Mac would have Bulls fans salivating.
3) Philadelphia 76ers
Although the Sixers have brought in two aging veterans recently in Elton Brand and Allen Iverson to provide leadership to their talented young core of players, it just hasn’t worked this season. The squad is wallowing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. With the cash-strapped Sixers stuck with some of the league’s worst long-term contracts in Brand and Sam Dalembert, the 76ers have been rumored to be shopping the two underachieving frontcourt players with virtually no takers. Now that T-Mac is suddenly available, the Sixers have shown some interest in offering leading scorer Andre Iguodala in a package for the 2-time scoring champ. Although Iggy is one of the league’s best athletes and one-on-one defenders, he is destined to be a #2 option in the mold of Scottie Pippen. The idea of T-Mac playing alongside longtime personal friend Allen Iverson has to be enticing for the Rockets’ former franchise player. It makes sense as long as the Sixers wouldn’t have to give up too much of their bevy of young talents like Marreese Speights, Lou Williams, or Thaddeus Young. Even if they only kept him for this season, the Sixers would be out from under all the long-term contracts, giving them money for free agents, and getting a Top 5 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Of course all of these scenarios hinge on how much McGrady still has in the tank. Reportedly, the Rockets are willing to take their time and wait until the All-Star break to receive the best offer. Rockets management has also stated that they are unwilling to just give away T-Mac for nothing. They want serviceable players and possibly draft picks that will produce in the near future. Are they asking too much for a 1-year rent-a-player with a pro-rated $23 million price tag?
Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously. He also coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckBlog.com, and his own blog, Hoops Haven (thehoopshaven.com).