With T-Mac threatening to disappear, struggling Magic painted in a corner
Posted: Friday February 27, 2004 3:53PM; Updated: Tuesday March 2, 2004 6:57PM
Tracy McGrady leads the NBA in scoring, but the Magic still own the NBA's worst record (16-43).
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Orlando general manager John Gabriel is confident the Magic can add the necessary pieces to convince Tracy McGrady to stay. Good luck.
T-Mac's recent comments that he might opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market in '05 were hardly news. He told Ian Thomsen the same thing two months ago in Sports Illustrated. In fact, McGrady said at the time Grant Hill's status would play a big part in his decision.
Hill's health very much remains a question mark, and Orlando is over the salary cap so it won't have more than the mid-level exception (around $5 million per season) to throw at free agents.
Were McGrady to decide to leave, he would headline a strong free-agent Class of '05 that also could include Ray Allen, Antoine Walker, Kenyon Martin, Carlos Boozer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Michael Redd, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff and Damon Stoudamire.
Portland could have a ton of salary cap room in '05, as could the Lakers if they lose Kobe Bryant and shed some other contracts. Also, several teams with salary cap room, such as the Nuggets, Jazz, Clippers and Hawks, might decide not to use it this year so they'll have it next summer.
Superhighway to Detroit
Last week's blockbuster three-way trade involving Rasheed Wallace was historic. And not just because it might eventually put the Pistons over the top in the East. The Wallace deal might have been the first in NBA history done almost entirely by BlackBerry.
Pistons president Joe Dumars and Hawks GM Billy Knight used the handheld wireless devices to hammer out nearly all the details.
"They were e-mailing each other back and forth," Pistons vice president John Hammond said. "I'll bet 80 percent of the thing was done that way."
Dumars and Knight were even typing away while watching the All-Star Game at Staples Center. Hammond says more and more NBA execs have turned to handheld devices in recent years, partly because cell phone reception is often spotty in basketball arenas.
So much for that cliche about NBA GMs "working the phones."
Several of this year's prep hopefuls are nowhere near ready, according to scouts. Shaun Livingston is so skinny Shaq would toss him into the 15th row. But don't for a minute believe NBA GMs and scouts don't know what they're doing.
They're drafting these kids based on their potential. McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal and Rashard Lewis all struggled early in their careers. Now they're stars.
Also, don't shed any tears over what this high school flood is doing to the NCAA. The main reason the big-time college programs are so concerned is because it's costing them money. The NCAA shouldn't be in the minor league business anyway.
Here's an idea for our nation's big-time hoops schools: Quit bellyaching about the loss of a bunch of kids who don't want to be in college in the first place. Try recruiting only those who intend to stick around a while. Stanford seems to be doing just fine with that approach.