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Detroit MLE Dreams: Tracy McGrady


Position: SG/SF

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 223 pounds

Years pro: 13

Age: 31

What he brings


  • Darfur, man. Darfur.
  • Everyone (annoyingly) quotes the Iverson ‘practice’ video relentlessly, but the T-Mac ‘It’s my fault‘ clip is — I’ll say it — the most underrated video in the history of players passive aggressively ranting at the media clips.
  • Despite missing the entire first half of last season, and despite losing a step or six over the past few seasons, McGrady was still nearly voted into the All-Star Game. I’m not making the case he was deserving, but I am making the case that a lot of people still like watching him play basketball.
  • During a recent workout with the Chicago Bulls, while T-Mac showed the explosion he was known for is gone, he did show a good shooting touch according to scouts, and perimeter shooting just happened to be a weakness for the Pistons last season.
  • Uh … Darfur anyone?
  • Sorry, that’s all I’ve got on this one.


How he fits

I’m not fooling anyone. There’s no real way McGrady fits with the Pistons. But Joe Dumars said the team planned to use its mid-level exception, and if we have to delve into the merits of every Tom, Dick and Louis Amundson on the market, we’re going to do it.

Why did I pick McGrady? For starters, I kind of love him. I’m a sucker for redemption stories, and what would be a better redemption story than McGrady joining the Pistons, the team that he made his infamous ‘feels great to be in the second round‘ comments about a tad prematurely in 2003, then finally ridding himself of those ‘T-Mac can’t get out of the first round’ accusations by showing up in fantastic shape, recapturing his old form and leading the Pistons into the playoffs and to a first round upset of … I don’t know … let’s say Chicago.

McGrady would definitely get t-shirts printed that say ‘second round.’ And you know you’d probably buy one. The second round would be like winning a title for T-Mac.

Do I have any serious analysis? I’ll give it a shot. McGrady has not found a team for similar reasons that Shaquille O’Neal has not found a team. They are trapped in 2002 when they were both young, alpha-dog superstars and can’t come to grips with the fact that not only are they role players now, they are going to be paid like role players. It’s easy for us to sit back and say, “well, they made their money, why not take less and try to win?” It’s not about the money, it’s about the prestige of being paid and respected like the stars that they are in their own minds.

Best case scenario for McGrady, no matter who he signs with? He comes in in fantastic shape, he comes in with a chip on his shoulder because of the perceived disrespect of no teams wanting to sign him, he takes a one year deal for a few million, he stays healthy and he shows that he can still hit his jumper at a reasonable clip (shouldn’t be a problem since he’s taller than a lot of wing players and should get some looks as a result of that) and, in the right situation, can occasionally get to the basket and finish.

If McGrady can score 10-15 points per game in 25ish minutes a night — and if he’s healthy, I wouldn’t bet against it — he still has a bit of value. Where do the Pistons come in? If they get him on a one-year deal for a portion of the mid-level, he can come in and push incumbent vets Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton.

Basically, tell them the team has starting caliber minutes for one of them. All three are coming off of unproductive and/or injury plagued seasons. The starting spot and big minutes go to the one of them who comes in in the best shape, who shows that he still has the most left to contribute and the one who is hungriest to earn/keep a job. The rest of the minutes will go to young players.

If the player who wins that job happens to be McGrady, then great. He re-asserts himself as a decent NBA player, he has value because his deal is affordable, and with Prince and Chris Wilcox, he gives the Pistons a third expiring contract that can be used as an asset at the trade deadline. If they don’t trade him, he plays a full season in Detroit, is semi-productive and he gets paid a little bit more by a team that wants him next season.

Why he doesn’t fit

That’s a pretty out-there scenario I just cooked up, even for someone as versed in reader alienation as I am. McGrady has been not just injured, but chronically injured the past two years. He also has a lot of mileage as a result of carrying Orlando/shooting like 50 times a game for most of his career.

The Pistons don’t need wing help, they need frontcourt help. McGrady hasn’t had the reputation of always being the greatest teammate. And the Pistons have two young wings in Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko who have a hard enough time getting minutes as is, without another broken down veteran in front of them.

There are so many good reasons not to sign McGrady that I won’t bother listing them all, but he does kind of fit the profile of guys Joe Dumars used to look for — cheaper players with something to prove.


Money is important to McGrady. I can’t see him signing for the minimum, and I’m not saying it’s greed that prevents him from doing that as much as pride. Max players always see themselves as max players. The money is great, but the respect that goes with that max contract is equally as ego-building.

If I were convinced that McGrady could contribute, I’d offer a one-year deal at a million or so over the vets’ minimum. I have to believe that would be the absolute most money anyone would pay him, but it’s not back-breaking, it’s not the full mid-level and if he’s remotely productive, it’s good value.


If the Shaq post was an unlikely scenario, McGrady to the Pistons is about as far-fetched as it gets. The Pistons obviously could still use a big, and if free agency is the route they are going to go, I would guess that the conversations about the merits of guys like Josh Boone or Brian Skinner are not particularly exciting.

Signing a guy like McGrady is a definite gamble, but at worst, he’s unproductive but still a small expiring contract on the bench if the team is in a position to make a trade at the deadline and needs more salary filler. At best, he becomes moderately productive and entices a contender in need of bench scoring to give up a pick or young player for him midseason. It’s highly likely that the Pistons roster is set right now, but if they did make a signing, taking a gamble on McGrady would be more interesting than one of the low-ceiling bigs still available.



  • Jul 30, 20101:44 pm
    by nuetes


    Ya know if the Pistons traded Rip and/or Tay I wouldn’t be opposed to taking a look at Mcgrady, but not as the team is currently constructed. I want to see Mcgrady succeed next year, and it would be fun to have it possibly happen on the Pistons.

  • Jul 30, 20106:01 pm
    by Laser


    everyone around here seems to think i’m a negative nancy (is there something i’m missing to be positive about?), so i’ll just say he’d certainly be right at home with all the other players we have at his positions. let’s get him!

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  • Jul 30, 20106:22 pm
    by The Rake


    I hate T-Mac, with a passion. His “second round” blast is one of the reasons, but even moreso is the fact he is more overrated than our need to breathe air.  The guy is a classic loser, very much like Iverson (particularly AIs later years), and not the type of guy I woud want around my franchise if I wanted them to do well.  Pass in the biggest possible way.

  • Jul 30, 20106:42 pm
    by Alan


    My interest peaked at Louis Admundson.  Patrick, thanks for amusing me.  You both won and lost at debating yourself!  Your playing “devils advocate” and making an honest effort to take the side a “McGrady to the Pistons” might benefit the team is a challenge few would dare entertain.  Kudos.
    I think all Piston fans are hungering for a move and some noise.  McGrady to Detroit satisfies this hunger, even if it doesn’t make our team better.

  • Jul 30, 20107:27 pm
    by Laser


    how can you overrate our need to breathe air?  it’s absolute.

  • Jul 31, 20101:13 am
    by TDP


    Another guy not even remotely on the Pistons radar.  Why even write these up?

  • Jul 31, 20106:52 am
    by koz


    If shaq can still command a double team at least some of the time, I would offer him a max contract and feed his ego, run the offense through him, give him the touches he wants. The pistons play in slow motion anyway, so why not pound it inside to him. He can still take up space, rebound,  score. This would open up the outside for the shooters. It’s worth a shot, but a big pass on McGrady, he’s done.

  • Jul 31, 201010:56 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    Why even comment then?

  • Jul 31, 20103:33 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    And to the few commenters, like TDP, who have written similar sentiments on all of the MLE Dreams posts:
    The point of doing these is to simply see the positives and negatives of anyone available as it relates to potentially helping the Pistons. If you haven’t noticed, pickings are pretty slim, but it’s still the offseason, not a lot going on. It’s OK to talk about far-fetched scenarios. Nothing to get worked up about.

  • Jul 31, 20104:41 pm
    by Travis


    I had a MLE Dream! That one day…. the pistons would trade sign and trade Tay for Shaq and sign T-mac….If we’re going to lose, lets lose with some interesting players….As George Blaha would say:  Thank You!

  • Jul 31, 20104:49 pm
    by Alan


    Can you sign and trade the MLE?
    Shaq only wants to play for a winner and wants more than the vet min.  Perhaps we can use our MLE for sign and trade him to Utah or BOS for Fesenko or Davis.
    If a sign and trade is possible, maybe you can reach out to the true-hoops network like you did with the Hornets blogger for the Paul trade to gage BOS & Utah’s interest.
    Sigh…so bored after the July FA wanes and we stil have another month until camp.

  • Jul 31, 20106:31 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    No, you can’t sign and trade someone from another team. If the Pistons signed Shaq (or any non-Piston free agent) to the MLE, that player couldn’t be used in a trade until Dec. 15.

  • Aug 2, 20104:55 am
    by Dan Feldman


    I’m with The Rake. I can’t stand McGrady. He’s soft, mentally weak, lazy, arrogant, annoying and a huge distraction.

    But I will say something nice about him: he was much better for the Knicks last season that I thought he’d be. I thought his career was over, but he’s still a capable player.

    Supposedly, Dumars has been hesitant to trade Prince because he doesn’t believe the the three second-year small forwards are ready to own the position.

    I guess — as much as it pains me to say — signing McGrady to a minimum contract to facilitate a good Prince trade wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

  • Aug 2, 20106:23 pm
    by Travis


    Well I didn’t write that very well.  I meant sign T-Mac to the MLE.  And then later do a sign and trade for Shaq, probably Tay would be sent to the Cavs.   That would be a great replacement for LBJ, a sack of bones… Just Kidding, I love Prince.

  • Aug 3, 20109:50 am
    by Hassan Shah


    Just a question, but why do you think no one’s picked up Earl Barron?  I would at least give him a chance with the Pistons for a 1 or 2 yr deal for the minimum (with a team option for the second) and see if he can come even close to replicating the work he did with NY (http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/3908)… Even if he doesn’t come close, he’s at least another big body

  • Aug 19, 20101:26 pm
    by Stephen Tong


    It was a good move. We didn’t have to give anything up for him. Maybe he still has something left in the tank to make the pistons competitive.

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