CLEVELAND - When Tracy McGrady was traded to the Knicks on Feb. 18, LeBron James sent him a congratulatory message. McGrady responded via e-mail, "Well, I'm in the Big Apple, so I'll see you here next season."
James could only laugh. Anything more or less would have revealed too much information and that's something LeBron has protected carefully during the last two years, as the will-he-or-won't-he debate has reached Brett Favre levels.
McGrady, as several of the game's top stars, won't even venture a guess on James' plans. Even if James wins a championship here for this title-starved town, McGrady doesn't think it's a given James will stay.
"It could go either way," McGrady said before last night's loss to the Cavs. "On one hand, he could say, 'I gave y'all what y'all never had. What y'all wanted.' On the other hand, he could say, 'Well, I've been here for seven years and I've tried and it just didn't happen and I want to start fresh.' It could go either way. I don't know. Nobody knows what the guy's thinking . . . His own circle doesn't know."
James' teammates can't venture a guess, though there are theories. Mo Williams would like to believe that it would be tough for James to leave if the Cavs win a title. Antawn Jamison, who recently was acquired from the Wizards to bolster a championship run this season, hopes that is true. He has two more years on his contract.
From the moment he joined the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - McGrady openly has talked about James and the prospect of playing with him at the Garden next season. He said Monday that he is a fan of James and believes the feeling is mutual. He recalled seeing James as a high schooler in attendance at his playoff games in Orlando. Now McGrady finds himself watching with awe.
"The things that he does on the basketball court are unbelievable," McGrady said. "He is a rare talent. A guy that can be 250 [pounds], 6-8, damn near faster than most of the guards in this league, very powerful. I mean, God just . . . said, 'I'm going to make you the perfect basketball player with the perfect body and everything.' He oughta be on his knees every night thanking the Lord because he has a gift."
Curry will play
Mike D'Antoni said Eddy Curry, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Jan. 18, will get minutes once he is cleared to play, which could be in about a week. "We'd like to get him back to where he's playing and have him finish out the year strong," D'Antoni said. "That would be really good. That would definitely be the plan." Curry was frustrated in December when D'Antoni pulled him from the rotation while he tried to get himself into game shape. Curry, who has one year left on his contract, wasn't sure if he would be back as a Knick next season. "I hope so, I don't know," he said. "It's kind of early to tell. We'll see what happens."