According to ESPN’s Marc Stein: “The Bulls are prepared to sign Tracy McGrady if he proves to be sufficiently healthy in a workout Monday and can convince the team he is willing to accept a bench role, one source familiar with Chicago’s thinking said Sunday. ‘Nothing is done until it’s done, but I expect the Bulls to sign McGrady later this week,’ the source said.”
McGrady sure has been enthusiastic about the Bulls on his Twitter account, tweeting things like “chicago workout monday…i’m ready!” and “close [to being a Bull] in ’97, close in ’00, and now decade later were close again.. could be fate this time round w/ chi” and “C-H-I-C-A-G-O be there tomorrow… workout monday” and “[the Bulls] are very high on list ralph…roster, organization, fans. bona fide sports town.. flirted w/ idea for yrs.. maybe now its on.”
Maybe now it is. After all, Derrick Rose told ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell that signing McGrady “would be good. I think that if he comes along, he could help our team. A player like him, with his experience and how he plays, I think it would help us. He’s good. He’s a player. If he just gives us half of what he’s got, we’ll be all right. But I know a player like him, he’s going to go out there and give us his all, but he’ll definitely help us if we get him on the team.”
So McGrady wants it, Rose wants it, and the Bulls — assuming the stated conditions are met — apparently want it too.
Is T-Mac healthy? The workout will (hopefully) determine that.
Can come off the bench and be a roleplayer? Well, he’s a career 43 percent shooter (33 from downtown) who has never averaged 20 points without taking 20 shots per game. So that’s a concern. Not many volume shooters have made a successful transition to a part-time, take-your-shots-where-you-can-get-them player.
Assuming he makes the team, will McGrady be the exception.
Possibly. McGrady has size (6’8″) and used to have some hops (the workout will tell whether he has any left). He also has skills other than scoring, as shown by his career per-game averages in rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.7). Of course, those numbers were compiled with a career usage rate of over 30 percent.
The hope, then, would have to be that T-Mac can be efficient while getting spot duty. The optimistic part of me looks to the fact that he led the league in Player Efficiency Rating in 2002-03 while coming in third in 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2003-04. And his career PER of 22.8 ranks 22nd all-time. That puts McGrady ahead of legends like Elgin Baylor, Moses Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler and Rick Barry. It also puts him in front of contemporaries like Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash and Carmelo Anthony.
But again, that gaudy PER number was built up while being The Man. And for many years — his best, actually — he was The Man for a pretty bad Orlando Magic team.
I’m not denying there are potential positives — big ones — in signing McGrady. But every positive comes with a question. Maybe two questions. Heck, maybe three questions. But sometimes winning is about taking chances. And if T-Mac really is healthy at long last, maybe he would be a good chance for the Bulls to take.
Or maybe I’m just trying to talk myelf into the idea.