T-Mac still doesn't get Bulls a title

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
5:18
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Tracy McGradyAP Photo/John RaouxTracy McGrady averaged eight points a game but played in 72 games for the Pistons last season.
CHICAGO -- ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith dropped a nugget of information Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 that surely caught the attention of plenty of Chicago Bulls fans.

Smith said as soon as the lockout ends veteran swingman Tracy McGrady will sign wth the Bulls. If that happens, I doubt McGrady in a Bulls uniform gets them that much closer to a title whenever the new season begins.

McGrady will be 33 in May and has been through the grind of 14 NBA seasons. He's coming off a season with the Detroit Pistons in which he averaged just eight points. Granted, he played in 72 games, but he is a shell of the player he used to be.

He's dealt with knee injuries over the past few years, including enduring the pain and rehabilitation that comes with microfracture knee surgery. He's never been a great defender so how would that mix with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau who preaches defense first, second and third?

McGrady has a working relationship with Thibodeau from his days in Houston while Thibodeau was working on Jeff Van Gundy's staff. But that didn't make it any easier for McGrady to find a job on Thibodeau's Bulls last season. They passed on McGrady after he openly campaigned to come to Chicago.

"This was a great team, a pretty good team, without adding myself and Carlos Boozer, and some of the key players that they added this offseason," McGrady said last summer. "You bring a coach in like [Tom] Thibodeau, who's very defensive-minded, very smart and knows the game, knows what to get out of his players.

"I think we can be really good, I really do."

The organization wasn't convinced that McGrady was totally healthy after all of his setbacks, and they weren't sure how he would respond to playing a reserve role after so many years of being the go-to guy.

The Bulls loved their team chemistry a season ago and they weren't sure how McGrady's addition to the locker room would change things.

So what's the difference now? Is McGrady really the two-guard who can help the Bulls get past the Miami Heat? Is he a solid backup who could give them a spark off the bench and a jolt of offense when needed? I don't think there's much question that he's a lot more of the latter. Either way, I don't see how McGrady is much of an upgrade over Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver, the two guys he'd most likely be taking minutes from.

Whether McGrady ends up with the Bulls, it still doesn't get them much closer to the ultimate goal of winning a championship. The Bulls need a dynamic two-guard who can take some pressure off Derrick Rose, create his own shot and play solid defense.

McGrady would have fit that bill 10 years ago. He doesn't anymore.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
21.9 3.3 1.6 39.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.7
AssistsD. Rose 5.1
StealsJ. Butler 1.6
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0