View Full Version : Articles out of Orlando

06-19-2004, 11:10 AM
The Orlando Sentinel is a sign up site, but I am now signed up, so here are the relevant articles. One interesting note thete was nothing today in the Houston Chronicle about McGrady going to Houston.



McGrady will leave, source says

By Brian Schmitz | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted June 19, 2004

T-Mac will not be back.

Tracy McGrady, star guard of the Orlando Magic, has told the franchise he wants to be traded, the Sentinel has learned. A deal could be made before the National Basketball Association draft Thursday night.

A highly placed league source said Friday that McGrady informed the Magic he wanted out in December, and the team has been exploring the best offers.

Magic General Manager John Weisbrod would not comment.

The Indiana Pacers, the Houston Rockets and the Phoenix Suns could be potential trade partners for McGrady, a four-time all-star and two-time league scoring champion.

He told the Sentinel several weeks ago that he wanted to play with a big center if he were traded. He said a team such as the Rockets -- who have 7-foot-6-inch Yao Ming -- appealed to him.

Magic owner Rich DeVos met with McGrady on Friday afternoon, but apparently the sit-down did little to change McGrady's mind. McGrady did not return calls to his home in south Orlando.

The source said at least two other Magic players also could be traded before the draft.

Eight years after Shaquille O'Neal left the team as a free agent, the Magic are losing another franchise player. O'Neal exited for the Los Angeles Lakers after exercising an option in his contract, and the Magic received no compensation. They were not going to let history -- and misery -- repeat itself.

McGrady, 25, had planned on opting out of his seven-year, $93 million contract after next season. Several sources said McGrady had informed the club around Christmas that he wanted out, so the move was not unexpected.

Several of his teammates had said privately that they suspected he wanted to be traded.

Indiana Pacers Chief Operating Officer Donnie Walsh said last week that he had spoken with "someone in the [Magic] organization" who said there was "a good chance" that McGrady would be traded.

McGrady had said at the end of the season that he would seek a trade if Orlando did not significantly upgrade its roster. The Magic finished with a league-worst record of 21-61 last season, losing a club-record 19 consecutive games.

It was after the streak that the frustration seemingly overwhelmed McGrady, weary of having to carry the load for three-plus years.

He became so emotional that he talked of retirement and became critical of his teammates in the media, privately disappointing management.

Talk of McGrady's departure caps the most volatile season in club history.

After blowing a three-games-to-one lead to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference playoffs the previous season, the franchise signed eight new players, four of them rookies. But the plan backfired badly.

Coach Doc Rivers was fired after the Magic started 1-10 and was replaced by assistant Johnny Davis. John Gabriel was demoted from general manager in March.

Weisbrod, the club's chief operating officer and former general manager of the Orlando Solar Bears minor-league hockey team, took over as general manager. He stressed professionalism and discipline, but Weisbrod's style seemed to rub McGrady the wrong way.

McGrady's departure ends the grand plan Gabriel put together in summer 2000. The Magic signed Grant Hill and McGrady, hoping the pairing could make the team championship contenders. But Hill wound up undergoing four surgeries on his left ankle, playing just 47 games.

Carrying the scoring load by himself with Hill sidelined, McGrady blossomed into one of the NBA's best players. In one of his last games before being placed on the injured list with a sore knee, McGrady scored 62 points, which was a team record and an NBA season high, against the Washington Wizards on March 10.

Earlier Friday at RDV Sportsplex, after the Magic worked out Emeka Okafor, whom they could take with the first overall pick in the draft, Weisbrod was asked how much interest there had been in McGrady.

"From just the GMs who send unsolicited faxes and leave unsolicited messages, there are enough things out there that will be better than OK in a trade," Weisbrod said. "So I don't think us doing a bad deal is an option. We wouldn't do a bad deal."

DeVos had said rather prophetically earlier Friday that fans and media would not know the outcome of the McGrady saga "until we put together whatever we're going to do."

06-19-2004, 11:14 AM

Whole organization failed to build team to keep star
Published June 19, 2004

You can't blame the Orlando Sentinel this time.

We didn't even do a Tracy McGrady poll.

So there.

Not that it matters. T-Mac is leaving anyway. Just like Shaq did eight years ago. Except when Shaq left, he called Orlando a "dried-up pond." T-Mac is leaving a deserted, desolate ditch.

So long, T-Mac.

And good luck, too.

Man, you were fun to watch.

You will be missed.

But this is how it has to be, right? This is what happens when perhaps the most gifted player in the NBA plays on the worst team in the NBA. Tracy wanted something better. General Manager John Weisbrod just wanted something. And who can blame either of them?

And, please, don't even try.

As much as you likely will hear in the coming days about McGrady's many faults, this is not his fault. And it's not Weisbrod's fault. And it's not Johnny Davis' fault. It's the fault of the entire Magic organization and ownership of the past several years that couldn't draft, couldn't coach, couldn't develop talent, couldn't do much of anything except talk about how they had been cursed by Grant Hill's ankle.

Yes, Tracy McGrady quit on the Magic last year, but they made a quitter out of him. When you're surrounded by incompetence, sometimes you just throw up your hands and say what's the use. Even if you do make $14 million a season.

This is not to say it's impossible for Weisbrod and Davis to be successful, but if you were McGrady, would you trust your future to a rookie GM who played hockey and a head coach with a career record of 42-111? Not if you have a choice. Not if you can go play for an organization like the Indiana Pacers, whose president is Larry Bird versus an organization like the Magic, whose president is the owner's son-in-law.

And as for Weisbrod, this trade better be good.

It better be real good.

It better be knock-your-socks-off, blow-you-away, Aunt Phyllis'-banana-pudding good.

If indeed he does trade T-Mac to Indiana, he'd better get Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley, Jonathan Bender, Ron Artest, Ron Artest's shrink and John Cougar Mellencamp. Otherwise, Weisbrod is going to be portrayed as the clumsy hockey pug who handled these delicate negotiations as if he were checking T-Mac into the glass.

Let's face it, the only thing missing from Weisbrod's negotiating tactics during the past several weeks has been five minutes in the penalty box for game misconduct. This guy has had all the subtlety of a runaway Zamboni. Even Weisbrod admitted as much when asked Friday about the public perception that he has been overly antagonistic toward McGrady.

"I don't disagree with a lot of the conclusions people are drawing about the way I'm behaving or the tact the organization is taking," Weisbrod said. "But it's based on limited information. If those people knew what I knew, they would understand our actions a lot better. Obviously, out of respect for Tracy and [his agent] Arn [Tellem], we've agreed not to talk about those things.

"The day of our last game when people were accusing me of giving Tracy an ultimatum, there was a lot more to know and a lot more behind the scenes and a lot more knowledge about the circumstances than met the eye. Internally, people know that, and internally that's why people understand why we're doing what we're doing."

If, in fact, the stories are true and McGrady has constantly missed practices, sloughed off on defense, alienated teammates, etc., then why has he been coddled for so long and the situation been allowed to get progressively worse over the past three seasons? Isn't that the fault of the organization?

"I can't speak to that [the last three seasons] because I just took over in March," Weisbrod said. "but Tracy wasn't allowed to be that way starting in March. Maybe that's why he doesn't seem to like me very much."

Let me say this: As a journalist, I love Weisbrod's bluntness and candor, but as a neutral observer in this negotiating process, I just look at him sometimes, shake my head and say, "Are you insane?" There's a place for honesty and forthrightness, but the negotiating table is certainly not it. When you're negotiating the alimony payment in divorce court, you don't tell your wife she's fat like her mother.

Nothing good can come from denigrating McGrady in this divorce. Nothing at all.

If the Magic are trying to deal him and get maximum value, shouldn't they be talking about what a tough, talented, hard-working competitor he is? Shouldn't Weisbrod be telling other teams, "If you want us to sacrifice our superstar, our franchise, the apple of our eye, our mythic hero, the beloved role model of thousands of poor, crippled Orlando children, then you better be willing to give us three good players, a draft pick -- and take poor, crippled Grant Hill while you're at it."

Instead, the Magic's tact seems to be, "Well, what'll you give us for this lazy, malingering quitter?"

Hmmm? Doesn't McGrady's value automatically go down if the other team knows you're desperate to unload him?

Which is why I believe Weisbrod already has a deal consummated for T-Mac. That has to be it, right? I mean, the man is not dumb. He never would sabotage his own trade. He went to Harvard, after all.

Then again, so did late-night comedian Conan O'Brien.

John Weisbrod better hope this trade works out.

Or he will soon replace Conan as Harvard's biggest clown.

06-19-2004, 11:17 AM

DeVos family needed to do more, too
Published June 18, 2004

Now that Rich DeVos is here, prompt enough to see this bomb's timer finish ticking, we can begin saying our last words.

Let's start simple.

How could you?

How could you allow this to happen, Rich? How could you? How could you watch Shaquille O'Neal exit eight years ago and now stand primed to let Tracy McGrady do the same?

This is not right. And the DeVos family must take some responsibility.

We've blamed Doc Rivers. We've blamed John Gabriel. We've even blamed McGrady. It's time to share some ire with DeVos.

The McGrady dilemma can be argued from several angles. It's that complex of an issue for both the franchise and the star player, more complicated than even we know. Wade through it all, and ask one question: Have the Magic done everything they could to support McGrady the past four years? The answer, sadly, is no.

This is why we're here. So this is why negotiations between General Manager John Weisbrod and McGrady seem more like a prizefight. Weisbrod has to clean up more than three years of nonsense and do so with force. McGrady has to wonder why the Magic have singled out him after living off him so long. Neither wants to budge.

What an unfortunate mess. DeVos has a major stake in causing it. The past four years have been the most disappointing in his 13-year tenure as Magic owner.

DeVos, 78, has lost that fire to win. He wants to win, but does he want to win? Not like a Mark Cuban, or a Jerry Buss, or the Maloofs in Sacramento.

I'm not about to call the man cheap. He made a $186 million commitment to bring McGrady and Grant Hill here four years ago. If Hill were healthy, we might be talking about a Magic championship, not a McGrady departure.

Perhaps the misfortune of Hill's ankle injury has drained DeVos. This much is certain: Many of the Magic's bad moves, particularly in free agency, have occurred because the family didn't push hard enough.

Before the 2001 season, the Magic failed to figure out how to give Antonio Davis a lucrative contract and then tried to scrap together a financially prudent frontcourt with aging big men Patrick Ewing and Horace Grant.

The next summer, they had verbal agreements from Keon Clark and Travis Best but chose to avoid the luxury tax and instead signed Olumide Oyedeji and Jacque Vaughn. Last summer, they spent, but they also traded Mike Miller in the middle of the 2002-03 season to evade his big payday.

In essence, the Magic became arrogant enough to believe McGrady and any other parts equaled a playoff team. Instead of feeding money into the team, DeVos fed off McGrady's star power, and the franchise kept putting more and more on him. This season, the 25-year-old withered. The pressure was too much.

In this four-year period, the family decided to sell the franchise and then pulled it off the market. It crooned for a new arena but couldn't figure out how to get it done. It seemingly has responded to failure with disinterest.

About this time last year, the family made a big deal of saying it had a renewed vigor and planned to keep the Magic long term. "Ownership is focused, and we mean business," team President Bob Vander Weide said earlier this season.

Practical business or sports business?

Ownership keeps saying the right things, keeps talking tough, but where are the results? This team is supposed to rebuild quickly with a former hockey general manager and a coach trying to get established leading them. I like Weisbrod and Johnny Davis, but almost no one considers this an aggressive plan to win.

So DeVos and McGrady will meet in what could be a goodbye. DeVos can do little to convince him to stay, and he appears fine with losing him unless McGrady glows when talking about the Magic. T-Mac won't glow. The trade talks can intensify. The timer on the bomb can keep ticking.

06-19-2004, 11:22 AM
There's a place for honesty and forthrightness, but the negotiating table is certainly not it. When you're negotiating the alimony payment in divorce court, you don't tell your wife she's fat like her mother.


06-19-2004, 11:23 AM

Magic, McGrady Exploring Options
By BILL FAY Tribune correspondent
Published: Jun 19, 2004

ORLANDO - The Tracy McGrady era in Orlando could be over as early as today, pending the outcome of a meeting between the Magic All-Star and team management Friday night.

Magic owner Rich DeVos and team president Bob Vander Weide flew to Orlando on Friday to meet with McGrady, who has said publicly he wants to be traded unless the team plans to rebuild quickly after a disastrous 21-61 season.

McGrady can opt out of his seven-year, $93 million contract at the end of next season. If he does, the Magic could lose him without getting compensation, a situation similar to what happened in 1996 when they lost Shaquille O'Neal.

``We are not accustomed to losing, so we're going to explore all our options,'' Vander Weide said. ``We want to talk to Tracy and hear what he thinks is best for him, but we've got to do what is best for our organization.''

McGrady went on record after the season was over that he is not interested in being part of a gradual rebuilding process, telling reporters: ``I can't go through another season like this. I've been rebuilding for four years. I don't want to do that anymore.''

General Manager John Weisbrod then challenged McGrady to give the team a definitive answer on whether he plans to stay or go after next season. Though all indications since then point to him leaving, DeVos said he wanted to hear that from McGrady and set up the meeting Friday night.

``I want to know how he feels, what he's willing to take on and what he's not willing to take on,'' DeVos said. ``It's not a matter of trying to make him a scapegoat or blaming someone, I just want to know where his heart is.

``If Tracy is going to be on the team we put together, he's going to have to work on the team as we put it together. He's not going to be a controller, he's going to be a player.''

The buzz around the league is that he's going to be a player somewhere else next season. Sources say as many as eight teams have made substantial offers for McGrady, a fact that Weisbrod didn't dispute.

``There are teams offering three guys and their first- round pick,'' Weisbrod said. ``Three established players and a lottery pick is certainly a respectable offer for a team that has a lot of holes to fill.''

That remark could refer to either Phoenix or the Los Angeles Clippers, both lottery teams that are interested in McGrady. Phoenix reportedly is offering All-Star Shawn Marion, backup guard Casey Jacobsen and their No. 1 pick, seventh overall, in next week's draft.

The Clippers could offer starters Corey Maggette, Marko Jaric and the No. 2 pick in the draft.

The most public suitor has been Indiana, whose general manager, Donnie Walsh, has said the only player on his roster he won't trade is center Jermaine O'Neal. The Pacers reportedly are offering a package of All-Star Ron Artest, forward Al Harrington and possibly point guard Jamaal Tinsley for McGrady.

Weisbrod said the team won't give away McGrady just to say they made a deal.

``That won't happen,'' he said. ``There are enough things out there that I know we will be better than OK. I don't think us doing a bad deal is an option.''

Magic management also spent part of Friday visiting with Connecticut power forward Emeka Okafor and 6-10 high-schooler Dwight Howard. Those two are projected to be the top picks in the draft. Orlando has the No. 1 pick.

Drafting Okafor, a two-time national defensive player of the year, would immediately toughen up Orlando's play in the paint. The Magic finished last in almost every defensive statistic last season, with the final games resembling layup lines and dunk contests.

``I'll try to help in as many ways as I can,'' Okafor said.

Wife Of Utah Jazz Coach Dies Of Cancer
SALT LAKE CITY - Bobbye Sloan, the wife of Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, died Friday of cancer at age 61, the team said.

Bobbye Sloan announced in January she had a malignant tumor in her pancreas, unrelated to the breast cancer she was treated for several years ago.

``She was such a positive, upbeat person,'' Jazz owner Larry Miller said Friday. ``There was a lot of energy and strength of character with a really positive image.''

After the season, Jerry Sloan said he planned to return for his 17th year with the Jazz, although that depended on his wife's health.

NETS: Lawrence Frank will be back to coach New Jersey next season, and possibly longer if an agreement on a long-term contract can be reached.

Earlier this week, the Nets guaranteed that the 33-year- old Frank would be back without an interim tag when they picked up his contract option for next season.

Frank guided the Nets to a 25-15 record after taking over in late January when Byron Scott was fired.