View Full Version : T-Mac Article from USA Today

06-23-2004, 08:28 AM
I don't know if this has been posted yet this morning as I have not had time to go through all the posts from last night.....If it has, feel free to delete this.


T-Mac talks take new tenor
By John Denton, Florida Today
ORLANDO The Tracy McGrady trade saga churned ahead Tuesday with apparently little resolution following a day of talks between the Orlando Magic and the agent for Houston guard Steve Francis. And it appears now that the Magic, seemingly determined to deal McGrady but unwilling to accept an offer from the Rockets, have reopened trade talks around the league because they are wondering if they can get a better deal.

Tracy McGrady may not be touching down with Houston after all.
By Scott Audette, AP

Francis' agent, Jeff Fried, said on Monday that he thought a deal that would send McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines to Houston for Cuttino Mobley, Kelvin Cato and Francis was imminent. But the potential blockbuster stalled Tuesday and might drag on for days now as the Magic weigh other offers pouring in from around the league.

"It was just communication," Fried said. "It's still moving. There's nothing definitive. Steve (Francis) really likes Houston. You have to face reality. If Houston is set on moving Steve, which is not Steve's preference, you have to deal with reality. There is nothing against the Orlando Magic. They are a fine organization, but they are also in a rebuilding stage."

Indiana, one of the teams that has held trade talks with the Magic off and on for the past month, seemed to have bowed out of the McGrady sweepstakes.

Indiana has an overflow of talent at the forward positions and has reportedly been willing to trade Al Harrington and Jonathan Bender. It is uncertain whether or not Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest is available. If the Magic had demanded all three players, it likely would have killed the deal.

Phoenix, Portland, Miami and others are also believed to be interested in trading for McGrady, an all-star in all four of his seasons in Orlando. Magic general manager John Weisbrod refused comment for a second consecutive day Tuesday. But over the weekend he stressed that he would not accept a bad deal.

"I have a lot of bad personal traits in terms of stubbornness, directness and lack of empathy," said Weisbrod, a Harvard graduate, "but being dumb is not one of them.

"I know people think I'm goofy for being optimistic in the face of adversity, but what could be better than rising out of the ashes? The toughest job to take is to replace somebody in an organization that's at the top of the mountain. It's expected that you stay there. But there's nowhere for us to go but up."

Even with McGrady averaging a NBA-best 28 points a game, Orlando finished with a league-worst 21-61 record. The Magic endured losing streaks of 19 and 13 games.

By virtue of their dismal record and winning the draft lottery, the Magic will pick first in Thursday's NBA Draft. The Magic are still trying to decide between Atlanta teen Dwight Howard and Co-National Player of the Year Emeka Okafor. Both players were in Charlotte Tuesday meeting with the Bobcats, owners of the No. 2 pick following a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

Dwight Howard's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said the Magic have yet to disclose which player they will draft. Because the Magic are also listening to trade offers for the No. 1 pick, Goodwin thinks Orlando will keep its choice a secret right up until Thursday night.

"They haven't said anything to me about which way they are leaning," said Goodwin, who also represents LeBron James, last year's No. 1 selection. "It would be nice if they did, but they haven't to this point. All I want them to do is tell me before they go to the podium Thursday night. The hard thing is that Dwight has 75 people coming to the draft and they'd love to have an indication. They'd love to be able to get to the next city. So I've told (the Magic) if they could give us a heads up it would be a big help so his family could get on to the next city and show their support for the kid."

Larry Bird believed the Pacers made a better offer for McGrady than the package of players the Rockets have proposed sending to the Magic.

"My personal opinion is they might have got a better deal from us," Bird said Tuesday.

"Take nothing away from the guys that have been traded. I like our guys. I know our guys are talented and hard workers, but when you go after Tracy McGrady, you have to give up something, and the price was just too high for us."

Both Bird and team CEO Donnie Walsh spoke with Weisbrod late last week about McGrady, but did not hear back from him after their initial talks.

"No question, when you have a player like Tracy McGrady out there, you try to pursue it and see what it was going to take to try to get involved in it," Bird said. "Obviously they didn't like the players we put out there and really, we didn't get down to details. We just asked them what they would like and they threw some names out there and the price was really too high for us."

While Bird would not say which players the Magic asked for, he did say the Pacers have received a number of inquiries regarding forwards Al Harrington and Ron Artest.

Harrington, one of the top sixth men in the league last year, told Bird at their season-ending meeting that he would like to be traded if he wasn't going to start for the Pacers next season.

"There's a lot of interest in Al," Bird said. "We're not really shopping Al. I wish Al was happy here and everybody else was happy, but sometimes a change of scenery will do both teams some good."

Artest, the defensive player of the year, didn't help his case when he was fined for skipping his season-ending meeting with Bird.

The Pacers were also mentioned in rumors surrounding the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, but Bird wasn't optimistic that O'Neal or McGrady would land in Indiana.

When asked if they were out of the running for an available "superstar," Bird said, "At this point with Shaq and Tracy, yeah. We hear that Tracy's probably going to Houston, but you never know, something might happen. If he's out there, we're going to go after him."

Whether the Pacers get back in the race for McGrady or not, Bird made it clear that they will continue to be a player in the trade market, partly because of their considerable youth and depth.

"We have a lot of guys with a lot of talent," Bird said. "We can put packages together to go after these guys."