Join the bandwagon, Bob! Help bring him home!
Go get him.
Tracy McGrady, that is.
Assuming he becomes available, which likely will be the case after the Orlando Magic's frustrated star meets with team owner Rich DeVos on Friday and shares his thoughts on his long-term commitment to that organization. McGrady, who has three years remaining on his deal, has an opt-out clause at the end of next season, and the Magic are not going to risk losing him the way they lost Shaquille O'Neal -- for absolutely no compensation.
So how about Indiana?
If the Pacers want to make it happen badly enough -- and they should want to make it happen pretty badly -- they will find a way.
Let me say it again:
Go get him.
"We could make it work, absolutely," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said Tuesday. "I have spoken to somebody in their organization, and I sensed there was interest there. What they're telling me is, there's a good chance he's going to be traded. So, yeah, a player like that out there, we're definitely going to be interested."
How to do it?
McGrady's salary cap number is around $14.5 million. The Pacers would have to send Orlando players whose combined salaries fall within 15 percent of that number. So it's like this: Start with Al Harrington ($6.3 million), who will get traded in the media no fewer than 50 times this summer. Then it's an issue of deciding who that second player might be.
Jonathan Bender ($6.5 million)? That would be my preference, but it might not be Orlando's choice.
Ron Artest ($6.2 million)? That would be hard to swallow, but for McGrady, it's a deal I'd make, however grudgingly.
It's a price worth paying to have the Shaq-and-Kobe of the East.
(And no, I don't think the Magic would happily take Austin Croshere and his big contract off Walsh's hands. If we're going to talk about trades, let's talk about ones that might work for both teams.)
"Once everybody agrees on the principals, our two guys for their one, you can make it work," Walsh said. "It wouldn't be that hard."
For his part, McGrady, who is friends with Jermaine O'Neal, has mentioned Indiana as one of the teams he'd be willing to join as part of a sign-and-trade deal. The only caveat for the Pacers: Making sure McGrady would be willing to sign a long-term deal to remain here. Indiana isn't going to mortgage its future for a one-year rental.
Now, keep in mind, you can throw just about anybody's name out there -- George Mikan, for instance -- and Walsh will say, "Sure, it's always worth following up with a phone call." And rumors, big ones, are born.
But this is not one of those.
The Pacers are interested in McGrady, and should be interested in McGrady. And Walsh made it clear Tuesday, he and Larry Bird are willing to move anybody except O'Neal if it means making a deal that catapults them past Detroit.
"Is anybody untouchable?" Walsh was asked.
"No," he said. "No one. Except Jermaine. He's our franchise player."
"No," Walsh said.
Last summer, the Pacers had a lot of base-year compensation players, making a blockbuster deal virtually impossible. That's not the case this season, at least not after July 1. If there was ever a time for the Pacers to cash in on their incredible depth, this is it.
McGrady is not the only huge name being floated out there. How about Kobe Bryant? If his legal troubles are resolved, he is going to be somewhere other than Los Angeles next season. And there aren't many teams who have more to offer than the Pacers.
(If this happens, please remember, you heard it here first. If it doesn't, well, never mind.)
We've also heard a lot about Golden State center Erick Dampier, although that talk has been cooling lately.
McGrady, though, is the one that makes the most sense. All he gives them is everything they need. An outside scorer, another option that takes pressure off O'Neal, a perimeter player who can create shots against the league's increasingly stingy defenses, and an obvious heir to Reggie Miller.
Yeah, he has some baggage. But it's more of the carry-on variety. Move him to a good situation where the team is winning and he's not required to score 40 a night, and he's reborn.
The Pacers know they are close now, closer than they originally thought after watching the Pistons defeat the Lakers. But they're not going to yield to the temptation to stand pat, to have a Colts-like offseason. Indiana did nothing at the trade deadline this season, and watched as Detroit made one of the most dramatic, season-altering deals ever made when they picked up Rasheed Wallace.
Now, it's the Pacers' turn.
The name is McGrady.
Go get him.