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LAS VEGAS -- Tracy McGrady wants to play in Chicago.
|Does Tracy McGrady have anything left in the tank?|
What makes me so sure?
Obviously, he would love to play alongside an All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose and a solid frontcourt in Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, but McGrady's reasoning goes deeper than that.
There is a comfort level in Chicago that the other places he is considering can't offer. He moved to the city a couple years ago because it is where he decided to have his knee surgery done. He spent countless hours at ATTACK Athletics working with famed trainer Tim Grover and physical therapist David Reavy to get himself back in shape. It's the same place he flew off to when the Houston Rockets basically told him to go home last year.
"If I was from Chicago I would have been in here [from] Day 1," he told me last summer while discussing Grover's facility. "Without a doubt, I would have been in here Day 1."
A spot on the Bulls' roster would represent another homecoming of sorts for him, especially since he already had one in Orlando (his hometown of Auburndale, Fla., is about 45 minutes away) that did not end so well.
The real question in all of this does not revolve so much around whether or not McGrady wants to be a Bull, the question is do the Bulls want him?
The guess here is no.
McGrady is 31 years old and has been in the league 13 years. The wear and tear that his body has endured has been well-documented and you'd have to wonder if his body could hold up throughout an 82 game season. I can already hear what some people are saying, "But they don't need him to play 40 minutes a night anymore. He can play 15 or 20 off the bench, and score 10 each night and be fine."
OK, that's a fair argument. But here's why I still don't think the Bulls will pull the trigger: At his peak, McGrady was never known as a great defender. After several knee surgeries, it seems as if he's lost at least one step, probably two. Does that sound like the type of player that would fit right into new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau's system?
I don't think so.
Thibodeau has stated over and over that defense will be one of the biggest priorities on his team, and McGrady has never been considered a great defender. This deep into his career it would be tough to pull that out of him, but I guess if anyone could do it, it could be Thibodeau since he was the same man who is credited with turning Ray Allen and Paul Pierce into serviceable defenders.
The bigger reason I don't think a McGrady move would work is because no one has any idea how he'll respond in a reserve role. He clearly wasn't happy about coming off the bench in Houston and playing limited minutes, so what makes anyone think that will change now? McGrady has always been a starter, and always been happy playing the leading role on a team, so what happens when he has to step into the background? Sure, there is a chance that he could fit into the laid-back atmosphere of the Bulls' locker room, but the risk of him becoming a disturbance to the young core the organization already has in place may be outweigh any positives that McGrady's presence in a Chicago uniform could bring.