View Full Version : Yet another McGrady article......

06-25-2004, 06:24 PM
Sorry if this has been posted already. I thought Bird's quote about how a potential McGrady trade is "out of his league" was interesting...

Pacers may be looking to add more pieces in coming weeks


Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Larry Bird rejected the urge to make a flashy move in his first NBA draft as president. Now he can finally get aggressive.

By not trading up to snag Oregon forward Luke Jackson or Connecticut guard Ben Gordon, the Pacers now believe they have more options to solidify a team that won 61 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals last season. They lost to eventual NBA champion Detroit.

"This strengthens our position, standing pat now, to entertain trade offers and free-agent possibilities," coach Rick Carlisle said after the Pacers made their last pick in Thursday's draft. "The key is to exercise restraint."

The Pacers believe Bird's strategy may give them another chance at Orlando's Tracy McGrady. If not, they say they might be able to pick up another big-name player in a trade or perhaps a significant player in free agency.

They wound up drafting 7-foot center David Harrison from Colorado and 6-2 guard Rashad Wright from Georgia - the big man they wanted and a guard that will add depth at the point where the Pacers have just one player, Jamaal Tinsley, under contract next season.

Bird played it safe, kept the picks and made no major moves.

But those were not the names that fans expected to hear on draft night.

McGrady has requested a trade to a contender and was reportedly expected to be dealt to Houston. It appeared Friday that the deal could still happen after Rockets guard Steve Francis dropped his objection to playing in Orlando.

"I couldn't say we're really closer to anything, but this was a good first step," Magic general manager John Weisbrod said Friday.

If that trade falls through, Bird may make a hard pitch for McGrady so the Pacers can add another All-Star to a lineup that already includes forward Jermaine O'Neal and guard Ron Artest.

Bird acknowledged Indiana reluctantly dangled forward Al Harrington, one of the NBA's top backups, to get either McGrady or a top 10 pick so they could choose Jackson or Gordon.

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh also has been involved in trade discussions regarding McGrady.

"I hear we're really the second choice," Bird said. "If he doesn't go to Houston, he'd like to come here. That's what I hear from Donnie, but this is really out of my league. It's big."

McGrady isn't the only name Bird mentioned Thursday night.

He also said he'd listen if the Los Angeles Lakers contacted him about center Shaquille O'Neal. But the Pacers would be hard-pressed to deal with a contract that will pay the league's top big man $27.6 million next season. O'Neal is to earn $30.6 million in the 2005-06 season if he doesn't opt out of his contract next summer.

McGrady also can opt out of his seven-year, $93 million contract after next season, and Orlando does not want to lose McGrady without compensation which was the case when O'Neal signed with the Lakers as a free agent.

If Bird could not make a significant deal, he may try to fill the Pacers biggest needs - power and outside shooting - through free agency. Indiana is not in danger of exceeding the league's salary cap.

But the greater likelihood is that Indiana will trade Harrington because he wants more playing time. He is attractive to teams because he is still young at 24, has three years left on his contract and is developing into the player Indiana envisioned when it drafted him in 1998 with the 25th overall pick.

"One thing we did find out the last couple days is that this guy has a huge trade value," Carlisle said. "The phones have been ringing off the hook."

By packaging Harrington with another young player such as Jonathan Bender or Fred Jones, two other former first-round picks who had their best pro seasons last year, Bird could still pull the blockbuster trade some expected to see Thursday night.

Still, Bird would prefer to keep the sixth-year veteran who averaged 13.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in his sixth NBA season.

"When you trade Al, you're trading away one of our hardest workers, a tough player who plays hurt and that's a lot to give up," Bird said.

The question now is what Bird will do to improve his team.

"Sometimes you get caught in a draft," Bird said. "If you get an opportunity to get THE player, you go after him. If not, you take your chances and go after him in July."