[size=18:0378324db0]Lots of teams can envision T-Mac wearing their uniform[/size]

By Jerry Brewer | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted June 20, 2004

So T-Mac is on the tarmac, pretty much, ready to flee to more fertile land.

The Orlando Magic are about to trade a superstar, and in all likelihood, some contender is about to gain the player it hopes can propel it to a championship.

For Tracy McGrady, the future seems delightful. But there's still the complicated little matter of which team snags him and whether McGrady, at 25 and having shown significant flaws, is truly prepared to win like he never has.

Plenty of teams are willing to take that chance. The Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns are among the teams with the best chance to get McGrady. Even the Lakers are interested.

But knowing General Manager John Weisbrod, who is crafty and secretive, he is negotiating with more teams. Several NBA sources believe Portland, which asked about McGrady's availability in February, has tried its luck. The Blazers' roster is among the deepest in the NBA, and it will take a deep team to meet the Magic's asking price.

Since the possibility of dealing McGrady became a whisper, teams have bombarded the Magic with inquiries. Now that it is a certainty, Weisbrod has several deals to consider.

The Magic intend to trade McGrady, not toss him to a team of his choice. Weisbrod is determined to make as good a deal as possible. McGrady has considerable say in this -- he has the card of an opt-out clause in his contract after next season -- but it's not as simple as the Magic will trade McGrady wherever he wants to go.

Indiana is trying to consider how much it needs to change to go from an Eastern Conference finalist to a champion. The Pacers again are frustrated with defensive player of the year Ron Artest, according to The Indianapolis Star, and it's likely the Pacers would include the all-star in a deal with the Magic, which could be a deal-maker.

McGrady likes Houston because of the good weather and Yao Ming, but the Magic must wonder whether point guard Steve Francis, who'd be included in that deal, is too much of a headache. Phoenix has much good young talent, but it appears the Magic won't be able to get Amare Stoudemire or Joe Johnson.

Another NBA source said the Detroit Pistons could have some interest, though they wouldn't want to do too much to change a championship team. McGrady, who attended the Los Angeles leg of the NBA Finals, was spotted hanging out in Detroit's L.A. hotel.

Regardless of where McGrady goes, he will arrive there at a critical point in his career. He is 25 and close to entering his prime. He's done the wide-eyed high-schooler thing in Toronto. He's done the superstar, spread-your-wings thing in Orlando. If he wants to become one of the best players of all time, he must win at his next stop.

It's something he has talked about constantly the past three years. Yet after a year of frustration -- and after a year of being perceived as acting spoiled, disinterested and problematic -- there are questions about whether McGrady can complete a championship team.

"I think he can," said Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who tutored McGrady in Orlando for more than three years.

Rivers said he was aware of the belief that some think McGrady never will change and become a legendary player, just a very good one in this era. In fact, Rivers' Orlando staff used to debate it.

"If you polled a bunch of guys, including my staff, the vote would be split," Rivers said. "You know what I always say? I'd like to find out. I'd like to take that chance."

If McGrady goes to Houston or Indiana, or if the San Antonio Spurs choose to play this game and win, he would be playing for coaches notorious for not accepting nonsense. Could McGrady coexist with the likes of Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Carlisle or Gregg Popovich? It's a fair question.

The source of the feud between the Magic and McGrady involves how the organization went from coddling him to trying to punish him after Weisbrod took over as general manager. There is a sense that McGrady got everything he wanted, and then Weisbrod wanted him to fold into an all-together-now concept. Weisbrod was hard on him, as was Johnny Davis, the new coach. McGrady didn't understand why he was being singled out, and the relationship worsened.

Now the Magic publicly are questioning McGrady's work ethic. His appointment as team leader was a mistake. And people wonder about his game, whether he has become just a shooter instead of an all-around offensive treasure and whether he will learn to play with intensity on defense.

"The issues are legit," one source said. "I don't know if he'll ever change."

Rivers said a better team could cure some of McGrady's problems.

"You can get on Tracy," Rivers said. "What you can't do is get on him every day. It's very difficult to lose five games in a row and get on Tracy McGrady, and you know he scored 40 points the night before. A lot of times I would push Tracy to do something, and he would be like, 'What do you want me to do? I'm carrying the team.' To have to carry the offense and be the team's best defensive player is a load. I feel like if we would have had better talent, you would have seen a better Tracy McGrady."

Rivers recalled a time in 2002, when Grant Hill looked healthy and performed well, and McGrady played his best. This makes him believe that putting McGrady with another star, preferably a big man, will help.

"I've seen him when he plays with great intensity and energy in practice and games," Rivers said. "As good as we've seen in the NBA, you can count that times two. He's that good."

A trade could inspire McGrady to reach his full potential. As a rookie in Toronto, former Coach Darrell Walker once said that, if McGrady remained on the same lazy path, he'd be out of the league in three years. McGrady made Walker sound silly.

"The best thing about me is the unknown," McGrady once said. "You just never know what I'll do."

Jerry Brewer can be reached at

[size=18:0378324db0]Source: McGrady expects trade but didn't ask for one[/size]

By Brian Schmitz | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted June 20, 2004

Tracy McGrady expects to be traded soon by the Orlando Magic, league sources said Saturday, despite the club's refusal to confirm a deal is imminent. They also say that it was the Magic who have wanted McGrady to leave the franchise, not that he wanted out.

A deal could be struck within days, but not announced until after the NBA draft on Thursday night.

Reached at his home in south Orlando, McGrady said he could not talk about the situation, "until it's official . . . after the draft.

"I can't let my tricks out of the bag. I don't have any comment."

Sources told the Sentinel on Friday that McGrady informed the Magic he wanted to leave as far back as December, and the club might trade him before the draft.

Neither the Magic nor McGrady is saying that the four-time all-star is staying in Orlando, though. Magic General Manager John Weisbrod was not upset by the reports, and McGrady did not sound surprised.

Weisbrod on Saturday said, "I certainly will not confirm that T-Mac is going to be traded.

"I'm going to continue to say on T-Mac what I have said for the last month, which is that Arn [Tellem, McGrady's agent] and I are in discussions, and we were in discussions late [Friday night] and we were in discussions early [Saturday] morning, and we'll be in discussions [Saturday] afternoon."

It is thought that what Weisbrod and Tellem are discussing -- and have been discussing for perhaps a month -- is how to work a trade that would benefit McGrady and the Magic.

Owner Rich DeVos met with McGrady on Friday, but, apparently, the owner simply wanted to meet with McGrady one last time and part professionally.

Weisbrod even called the meeting "sort of window dressing in the interest of doing things the right way." He said "while it was good the family and Tracy were able to get together, nothing came out of it that in any way affects the process that is going on with Arn."

McGrady had said that he would seek a trade if it didn't appear the Magic would make significant progress after finishing with the league's worst record last season. He has an escape clause in his seven-year deal that allows him to walk away after next season.

While it's open to debate just how the star and the team arrived at a divorce, it is clear that McGrady has been on the trading block.

Donnie Walsh, the Indiana Pacers' chief operating officer, said last week that he spoke with Orlando about trading for McGrady. A general manager in the Western Conference confirmed to the Sentinel that he also has talked with the Magic.

McGrady had said if he were to be traded that the Houston Rockets appeal to him. Other sources link him to the Pacers. But other teams have jumped into the bidding.

The Magic are looking to make a blockbuster deal, acquiring two or three players for McGrady or draft picks. A source said Friday that several other Magic players also could be traded before the draft.

Brian Schmitz can be reached at

[size=18:0378324db0]It's time to bring back Shaq to Orlando[/size]
Published June 20, 2004

Bring back Shaq.

Do whatever it takes.

Make it happen.

If new GM John Weisbrod wants to be a hero, he will bring back Shaq.

If owner Rich DeVos wants that new arena, he will bring back Shaq.

If the Orlando Magic want to make this entire town forget about Tracy McGrady's imminent departure, they will bring back Shaq.

Seriously, if you bring back Shaq, do you realize what T-Mac becomes? He becomes T-Who.

In case you haven't heard, Phil Jackson has been dumped, the Lakers are breaking up, and Shaq says he wants to leave L.A. And, get this -- Weisbrod even admitted Saturday that he expects to hear from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak about a possible deal for The Big Orlandoan.

And why do you think that is?

"I think when people talk about Shaq moving, they know in his mind and his heart that this would be the obvious place he'd want to go," Weisbrod said.

But when Weisbrod crunched the numbers in his head, he ultimately came to the conclusion that financially it would almost be "mathematically impossible" to bring Shaq Daddy back where he belongs.

Nothing's impossible when it comes to Shaq. You do what you have to do to bring The Big Isleworth home again. Weisbrod says he loves guys who want to be a part of a "team" concept. Well, you know what Shaq told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday about the Lakers?

He said, "The direction they're going in, if they're going to continue to go in the same direction, I don't want to be a part of this. This team, it ain't about me. It ain't about Phil. It's supposed to be about team.

"When I was brought here by [then-Laker executive] Jerry West, there was a team concept. It was something I wanted to be a part of. Now, no one cares."

We care, Big Teammate. We care so much, it hurts.

Things have been bad here since The Big Franchise Wrecker left us, but, finally, there may be some hope. Weisbrod, whether you agree with his tactics or not, at least is giving the organization some direction. The Magic won't have McGrady much longer, but at least they're going to get some compensation for him and at least they have some draft picks. Which means they have plenty to offer the Lakers.

At long last, the Magic have a chance to remove The Curse of the Shaquino. It's time to nix that proposed McGrady deal with the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns or whoever and ship T-Mac to L.A. for Shaq. And if that's not enough, Orlando should throw in Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, Drew Gooden, Buddy Dyer and Carrot Top.

In all seriousness, here's how it could work: The Magic will have to ship enough of their salaries to L.A. to match the $27.7 million Shaq is slated to make next season. So here's the deal: The Magic send T-Mac ($14.4 million), Juwan Howard ($5.9 million), the No. 1 draft pick ($4 million) and Pat Garrity ($3 million) to the Lakers.

"We'd be fielding a roster with seven guys on it," Weisbrod said.

Details. Details.

John, babe, you have to work with me on this. Do you want a new building or not? Let me tell you something: You bring back Shaq and surround him with four guys named Mo and you have 41 sellouts next year. The Big Arena gets the Magic in the playoffs all by himself.

You don't believe me? When Shaq first joined the team as a rookie in 1993, the Magic went from a record of 21-61 to 41-41. That's a 20-game difference. Add 20 games to the Magic's pathetic 21-61 record last year and they would have been a No. 5 seed in the East. Put a healthy Grant Hill with Shaq, and the Magic are instant contenders.

And here's another reason the deal makes sense: The Lakers desperately need T-Mac so they will have a marquee superstar they can count on. If Shaq leaves, that means the Lakers have committed to building around Kobe Bryant next year. But what happens if Kobe is playing small forward for the skins team at Rocky Mountain State Penitentiary next year?

Put it on bumper stickers.

Paint it on buildings.

Write it in the sky.

Let me hear it one more time:

Bring back Shaq!

Mike Bianchi can be reached at