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Monday, July 19, 2010
Updated: July 20, 9:21 AM ET
Chasing McGrady isn't smart for Clips

By D.J. Foster
Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady was one of the best players in the league in his prime, but he's got a ton of miles on the odometer.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

An aging, injury-plagued, former All-Star is looking for a new home. He's tailed off considerably over the past few years, and because of some character issues and the unwillingness to accept a new role, he's worn out his welcome with coaching staffs around the league. Instead of hanging up his sneakers or latching on with a team that can compete for a title, he's looking to play in a place where he can still be considered "the man."

Last year, that was Allen Iverson.

This year, it's Tracy McGrady.

Some guys can handle taking the backseat as they get on in years, and some guys can't. It's not easy for a professional athlete to recognize his body is deteriorating and he simply doesn't have it anymore. McGrady was an amazing player, one of the best in the league in his prime, but his back has betrayed him and he's got a ton of miles on the odometer.

But let's pretend for a moment he could be "the man." Let's pretend McGrady hasn't shot less than 42 percent from the field in his past three seasons. Let's pretend he wasn't having an increasingly harder time getting himself buckets.

What if he could march into the Los Angeles Clippers' training facility this week for his scheduled workout and absolutely wow the Clippers through the entire process.

Then what?

First-round pick Al-Farouq Aminu would slide down the depth chart, scrapping to pick up playing time wherever he could. Blake Griffin would get fewer touches. Eric Gordon, already proven to be one of the most efficient wing scorers in the league, would get fewer possessions to work with. Baron Davis and McGrady, if the past few years serve as an indicator, would account for nearly half the Clippers' offensive possessions while they were on the court, even though they were two of the least efficient scorers in the league last season.

Why would you make those sacrifices? For the distant hope that McGrady could miraculously stay healthy even though he's missed significant time in the past three seasons? For the hope that it would somehow propel the Clippers to the 50-win range and land them a playoff spot in an impossible Western Conference?

It's understandable the front office wants to look like it's exploring every avenue to improve the team. But adding McGrady, as great as he once was, simply doesn't accomplish that anymore. All it does is directly contradict the rationale behind the moves made earlier in the offseason.

Isn't it a little off-putting that no one in title contention is clamoring for McGrady's services? Isn't it a little troublesome that the Houston Rockets, led by one of the smartest front offices in all of sports, barely played McGrady last season and was happy to part ways with him? Thunder general manager Sam Presti didn't go out a few years ago and sign a guy like McGrady to steal shots from Kevin Durant, even though the Thunder were losing plenty of games, and things seem to be working out just fine in Oklahoma City now.

Would McGrady sell some extra tickets? Sure. Could he temporarily muzzle the fans barking for a big name to be added to the roster? Most likely. But what's the end goal in this equation? By the time the rest of the roster is ready to compete, McGrady will almost certainly be out of the league. The Clippers may need another stopgap on the wing, but there are players available who at least have the potential to be with the team in the future. McGrady doesn't.

The front office may say it's just doing its due diligence, but even considering this move reeks of desperation. It's sending a message that the slim chance of adding a few extra wins outweighs the development of the team's younger players.

If the Clippers' front office wants to bring more respectability to the franchise, it will hold itself to a higher standard and stop entertaining scenarios like this one. The future for the Clippers is bright -- as long as they allow it to be.

D.J. Foster is a staff writer for Clipperblog.com and has contributed to ESPN.com's TrueHoop Network.