Tracy McGrady's slow and painful (to watch) comeback from microfracture surgery -- did you see when Rick Adelman put him in against Carmelo Anthony last night...yikes -- has a lot of people around the league watching attentively. The worst-kept secret is that the Rockets are looking to trade him and now the secret they didn't want out is that T-Mac clearly isn't ready yet to play full-time minutes.

Which means Houston isn't going to get much for him.

But as we reported last night on Newday.com and in today's print editions, the Knicks are among a small number of teams (perhaps as small as two) that are very interested in making a deal.

ESPN.com later in the night also reported the Knicks' interest in McGrady, but their suggestion that the Knicks could use the Cuttino Mobley contract as a sweetener (80 percent is paid by insurance, which saves Houston money) is inaccurate. I have been told by sources that Donnie Walsh will not use Mobley in a Keith van Horn-sort of manner because the NBA is already going through the process of officially retiring Mobley for medical reasons. The one-year anniversary of Mobley's retirement announcement was last Friday (Dec. 11).

Our sources say the Rockets don't want to take any money back beyond this season, which means Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries are out of the equation. The Knicks could offer up Larry Hughes ($13 million) or Al Harrington ($10 million), but if McGrady can't play a heavy workload of minutes (or be effective while doing it) it would destroy what little mojo the team has finally put together over these past 13 games as they hang within shouting distance of the weak Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Donnie Walsh is trying to make something happen to improve the team -- and this is generally the time of year where teams start to shuffle their decks -- and there are other irons in the fire.

Fixers have asked me about DJ Augustin and what I know about this scenario is he was never a one-for-one target by the Knicks, according to people I've spoken with. Augustin's name was mentioned in a possible bigger deal from last season that never materialized. Let this one go.

And Anthony Randolph clearly would love a trade and the Knicks have admired him since the 2008 draft, but while the Warriors may consider dealing their former lottery pick, from what I've been told Golden State wants a lottery pick in return. So that means Danilo Gallinari and the Knicks say no. It is not believed they want the team's other lottery pick, Jordan Hill, because if they did, I would think the Knicks would do it.

* * *

Larry Hughes is questionable for tonight's game here against the Bulls with a groin strain he suffered last week against the Hornets. If he doesn't go, expect rookie Toney Douglas to get the minutes. Mike D'Antoni made it crystal clear Nate Robinson isn't about to get any charity ticks any time soon.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"It takes a while for the ship to turn in the ocean; it takes a while for it to turn back," D'Antoni said after practice yesterday. "It's going to be a slow process and we'll keep evaluating and we'll see where we go."