The first rule about trading for Tracy McGrady is to not talk about trading for Tracy McGrady.
Honestly, how often do teams openly talk about players and then wind up actually getting them? How this usually works is D'Antoni would decline to comment about a player who is still property of another team and, if anything, speak in generalizations. Trade talks are often so sensitive that if there's anything on the front-burner, it is taboo to even suggest any interest in the player.
There was a lot of talk about Allen Iverson, too, and in the end nothing materialized. Iverson was at least a free agent at the time and technically not property of another team. It's true, the Rockets have made it official they will pursue trade options for McGrady, but why is it that the Knicks are the only team -- so far -- to openly address him as available . . . and themselves as "intrigued," to use D'Antoni's word.
At the time of the Iverson flirtation, the Knicks were in a desperate state. Things are a lot different at this point. They go into tonight's game against the Nets with a chance to cap a revival month of December with 10 wins and a potential move into the top eight -- maybe even seven -- in the East.
Is there so much of a need now to add a player like this? It isn't like the Knicks will be getting back a player near his prime. In fact, he has still yet to prove he will be able to be an effective player post-microfracture surgery.
As Rick Adelman said yesterday, "The thing people want to write about is who he was two years ago. He isn't that right now . . . He's coming back from major surgery and rehabilitating, and who knows when he's going to get there. Right now, he wasn't there. The explosiveness definitely wasn't there. That's to be expected."
The Knicks already have one reclamation project in the rotation, Jonathan Bender, who clearly is more amenable to accepting a reduced role as he works himself back and can fit in as a role player. McGrady is accustomed to being a leading role player and, despite his determination to make his comeback and, of course, earn another multi-year deal this summer as a free agent, may not be able to handle the job as a shooter and facilitator and not a ball-dominator. McGrady doesn't know how to make the game not all about him and that's the last thing the Knicks, who have found a nice groove right now with their game, need to disrupt their chemistry, no matter how much an upgrade at the point guard position could make them more of a playoff contender in the weak East.
McGrady and everyone else should take note that another ball-dominator, Nate Robinson, has been fused to the bench for the last 13 games. And if you aren't convinced that defense isn't the higher priority to Mike D'Antoni, consider that, while his team is starving for offense off the bench, he continues to look away from Nate's 17.2 points per game last season as a Sixth Man because he doesn't want to risk the negative impact on the defensive end.
McGrady is a low-risk move only if it comes at a cheap price, which is what Iverson's situation presented. The Rockets, first and foremost, aren't in any rush to deal McGrady, especially now that they've sent him on indefinite leave. Secondly, they're not going to want to give him away for players/contracts they don't want.
The Knicks have a lot to discuss internally about this situation and should probably keep it internal at this point.