Various surgeries on his ankle, shoulder and knee have limited Tracy McGrady… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
This is the 24th post in a series focusing on this year's free-agent class.
Player: Tracy McGrady
Former team: Atlanta Hawks
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: Let's be realistic, Tracy McGrady's nowhere near the prime of his career when he was a seven-time All-Star and two-time league scoring leader. The 33-year-old may have averaged a career-low 5.3 points in 16.1 minutes last season with the Atlanta Hawks. But McGrady still has value. After having microfracture surgery in 2009, he's had two relatively injury-free seasons with Detroit and Atlanta. He shot 45.5% last season from three-point range, and McGrady still can attack the basket and look for his own shot.
Sure, he's a lesser version of himself. But that's not what the Lakers need. They want someone who can score, help them in the backcourt and wing, and relieve Kobe Bryant some minutes. With McGrady proving he's still relevant through 15 seasons, he should have enough to fill that job description at the league's veteran minimum.
Negatives: When are the Lakers ever going to get younger? It's understandable they want to squeeze as many championships as they can out of this current roster. But outside of Jordan Hill, they don't have any young reserves with clear long-term futures with the Lakers. Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock have shown flashes at times, but they're still developing. Impressive summer league aside, Christian Eyenga has only appeared in 51 NBA games through three seasons. In other words, the Lakers need more dependable talent.
McGrady surely is, but there are a few risks that would come with such an acquisition. Considering he's had various surgeries on his ankle, shoulder and knee in the past few years, it's possible that could limit him or keep him out of the lineup altogether for stretches. The Lakers can't afford a lack of depth at shooting guard because of how critical it is that Bryant is healthy and rested enough for the playoffs.
McGrady also has some negative history with Lakers assistant coach John Kuester that could complicate things. When Kuester was the Detroit Pistons' head coach two seasons ago, McGrady was one of the players who skipped a morning shoot-around with Detroit as a protest against him. When Kuester was ejected during a regular-season game against Philadelphia that very night, several Detroit players including McGrady could be seen laughing over the incident.
Verdict: The Chicago Tribune reports that the Bulls may add McGrady to their roster. But it's unlikely McGrady is going to command anything more than the veteran's minimum. Besides, last summer McGrady posted a picture on Twitter that featured him in a Lakers uniform. It's possible the interest would still be there. It's telling, though, that nothing ever happened.
The Lakers have only gone all in with acquiring Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison. Since McGrady wouldn't be expensive and would fill a specific need, acquiring him would make sense.
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