Free agent profile: Tracy McGrady
This is the 18th post in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit with the Lakers.
Detroit Pistons shooting guard Tracy McGrady
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: No NBA team can make any moves during the lockout and can't even be in contact with players or their representatives, unless of course it's Mark Cuban's appearing onstage with his players accepting an ESPYS award for the best team. So with the Lakers unable to even make a phone call, it doesn't take much connecting the dots to know that McGrady's Photoshopping himself wearing a Lakers uniform and sharing it via Twitter shows he's interested in wearing the purple and gold.
But let's not forget who McGrady is. Before microfracture surgery on his left knee during the 2008-09 season as a Houston Rocket, McGrady was a seven-time All-Star and two-time league scoring leader. Even though his eight points per game last season in Detroit was his lowest scoring average since his rookie season in 1997-1998, McGrady shot a solid 44.2% and showed that he can still make a contribution.
There's several areas he can help the Lakers. Shannon Brown's opting out of his $2.37-million contract left the team without a reliable backup to Kobe Bryant, a role McGrady could fill because of his slashing and aggressive abilities. At 6-foot-8, McGrady would add further wing depth to the team's defense. Say what you will about Ron Artest's poor 2010-11 season, but McGrady's former Rockets teammate at least can present tangible evidence that his Game 7 heroics in the 2010 NBA Finals came in part because he had accepted a reduced role for the team's benefit.
Negatives: Stop jumping up and down in excitement because there's a good chance this would be a horrible move. McGrady still has a toxic persona and I doubt he would shake out of that with the Lakers. McGrady was one of the players who skipped a morning shootaround with Detroit to protest Coach John Kuester. When he was ejected during a regular-season game against Philadelphia that very night, several Detroit players, including McGrady, could be seen laughing over the incident.
Some could argue that the veterans on the Lakers could keep McGrady in line. Too bad Kuester has been hired as one of Mike Brown's assistant coaches, making the likelihood of McGrady's signing slim.
There's also concerns on where McGrady would fit in. He would help the Lakers in a reduced role, the only problem is I don't see McGrady accepting a bench role when he sees himself as a dominant scorer.
Verdict: There are good reasons why the Lakers avoided signing McGrady in years past when he expressed interest in joining them. It may be tempting to sign McGrady to a league-minimum salary with a one-term deal, but that would only make sense if the Lakers had Phil Jackson still at the helm and there was a sense of continuity on the team. The Lakers are going through a big transition with Brown, and the last thing they need is another area that may take some time sorting out.
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Photo: Detroit Pistons guard Tracy McGrady Photoshopped and tweeted a picture Monday of him in a Lakers uniform. Credit: Tracy McGrady.