Tracy McGrady had microfracture surgery last February and while he's proven he can run and move around a basketball court, his ability to explode -- a major part of the game -- remains questionable.
But, really, whatever deal the Knicks may make for the former all-star will be more about other features than merely acquiring McGrady to use the Garden stage and Mike D'Antoni's system to put up big statistics to advertise for this summer's free agency.
Once again Yahoo! Sports has an amazing amount of detailed information about a trade scenario involving McGrady and the Knicks. In their report, the Knicks will mortgage their future -- Jordan Hill and unprotected 2011 and 2012 first-round draft picks -- to get McGrady, while the Rockets will apparently take on Jared Jeffries' $6.8M salary in 2010-11 to get rid of him.
Everyone in the NBA knows the New York media will jump all over every rumor and perpetuate the talk and the rabid fans here will eat it up and beg for more. So understand, Fixers, these stories are presented for public consumption for good reason.
I will say this: the scenario reported by Yahoo! is pretty much on the mark of the parameters I'm told have been involved in the talks between the Knicks and Rockets. But it's also more in the Knicks favor because, aside from giving up on Hill, the team's lottery pick in 2009, they're clearing $9.2M in cap space for this summer which would almost certainly create enough room to slide two max contracts across the table to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
And the first rounders? The Knicks would swap their 2011 picks and give up their 2012 pick, which means they are giving up the chance to build their franchise through the draft in the rare case they don't sign any big names this summer.
But with all of this cap space (remember, you can also trade for players when you have cap space), how can the Knicks even believe they could still be a lottery team by 2011 and 2012?
Now let's look at it from Houston's perspective: they are trading an expiring contract for four an additional $6.8M in salary the following year? Fixers, understand the Rockets do not have to trade McGrady. They have him as a chip and are willing to deal him for the right type of situation (i.e.: young players and draft picks). But to add money onto the payroll when, if they did nothing they would clear $23 million off their ledger come June 30? Doesn't make a great deal of sense, unless they see some incredible upside in Jordan Hill that has so far has not caught our eye here in New York.
Now there is the possibility that Houston involves a third team to take the Jeffries contract off their books. There aren't many teams in the NBA that want to help the Knicks clear any more cap space -- and certainly none in the East. But teams in the West, especially those who aren't even in the game for 2010, don't care as much. Keep an eye out for that kind of scenario if that's what it takes to get a deal done. And it may take that kind of help.
Put it this way, I was talking to an extremely well-connected NBA source tonight after I landed in Chicago and saw the Yahoo! report and this person said, "If this trade happens, Donnie Walsh should be Executive of the Year."
I do believe the Knicks are closer than any other team in a deal for McGrady, but that doesn't mean a deal is guaranteed to happen. In fact, I'm of the belief that if it does go down, it might not happen until 2:59 p.m. on Thursday.