Bluffing to get Artest included?
Personally, I don't think they'd have to work too hard to get Artest included unless the Pacers are using Artest for another prong to their trade plans and have two (or more) things on the burner.
Sorry if this has already been posted... I can't keep up....
Front-Runners In McGrady Trade May Be Rockets
By Dick Scanlon
ORLANDO -- The Houston Rockets moved to the front of the pack in the Tracy McGrady sweepstakes Monday as the race turned into the homestretch.
The Rockets have reportedly offered guards Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley and backup center Kelvin Cato to the Magic in exchange for McGrady, forward Juwan Howard and point guard Tyronn Lue.
If the trade goes through, it would unite McGrady, the NBA's top scorer in each of the last two seasons, with 7foot-6 Yao Ming, the league's best young center.
Having failed to get a longterm commitment from McGrady, the Magic have been running an auction for the Auburndale-raised star. They anticipate taking the best offer they can get for McGrady before Thursday's NBA Draft.
Several NBA teams have made offers for the 25-yearold McGrady and for the Magic's No. 1 overall draft pick. The Magic have not announced whether they will draft Connecticut center Emeka Okafor or Atlanta high school star Dwight Howard.
"Everyone in the league has obviously heard rumors or read things and called to get a sense as to where I stand," said Magic general manager John Weisbrod, who is in daily contact with McGrady's agent, Arn Tellem.
"It's exciting stuff," Weisbrod said. "Certainly when you think about putting your best foot forward and making a best effort on every front, dealing with the Tracy thing is sort of a full-time endeavor, and dealing with the draft is sort of a full-time endeavor, and running the company is a full-time endeavor."
Several news outlets were reporting the trade as imminent, but Weisbrod was also considering offers from Indiana, Phoenix and probably others. It is not known whether Weisbrod is bluffing the Rockets trade in an attempt to get the Pacers to include forward Ron Artest in their offer.
The rumored Houston trade would meet the requirements of the NBA salary cap, since the combined salaries of the players going one way were within $1 million of the salaries going to the other way.
But there are complications. McGrady, who plans to opt out of his contract next summer, would have to agree in advance to a long-term contract with his new team, since no team would be interested in acquiring him for only one season.
And Francis, who has five years left on a contract which will pay him $11.3 million next season, isn't thrilled about the deal.
"I thought we were really building something, something very good in Houston," Francis told the Houston Chronicle.
The 27-year-old, 6-3 Francis averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season while the 6-4, 28-year-old
Mobley averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists last year.
Cato, 6-11 and 275 pounds, backed up Yao in Houston. He would probably be Orlando's starting center.