LOS ANGELES - Tracy McGrady has no idea if he'll be a Knick next season. But he doesn't think LeBron James will be one. "To me, in my honest opinion, I don't see it happening," McGrady said of James bolting Cleveland for New York. "I really don't."
For McGrady, who sat out the Knicks' 113-107 win over the Clippers with left knee soreness last night, it was a much stronger take on the situation than he had a month ago; while in Cleveland, he had said James "could go either way." And when he came to the Knicks at the trade deadline, he was far more optimistic about the effort to attract a superstar such as James this summer.
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"This is New York; every player should want to play here," McGrady said Feb. 19. "I'm sure they're looking at it this way . . . It's everything you want. Because this city and this franchise has been down so long, why not be part of something special and try to build it up? That's how I feel. I just want to be a part of that."
McGrady now says he'd consider re-signing with the Knicks as a free agent this summer with a condition: "It has to be that those players come in here."
It is not likely that the Knicks will be all that interested in bringing McGrady back. His 21 games have produced concerns about whether he can be a regular rotation player again; given the Knicks' interest in playing up-tempo, it is debatable whether he is even the right fit.
His focus now is to be a role player. "I'm not looking to go in anywhere and be The Man again," he said. "My time on that is past. But I still can be an effective ballplayer."
Notes & quotes: David Lee had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Al Harrington scored six of his 26 points in the final 1:12 for the Knicks, who beat the Clippers at Staples Center for the first time in 11 tries. They last beat the Clippers on the road in March 1998 at the L.A. Sports Arena. Baron Davis had 23 points and 11 assists and Chris Kaman had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Clippers . . . Yet another likely free-agent target, Clippers guard Steve Blake, said, "If a team like the Knicks wanted me to be there, I'd be thrilled about it." . . . An earthquake that hit 7.2 on the Richter scale in Baja California rattled Staples Center. The Knicks were on the team bus and didn't feel it.