“Tracy McGrady (foreground) has become Grant Hill” insists TNT’s David Aldridge, using the auspices of NBA.com to declare “‘Waiting for Tracy’ is a play that nobody in Houston wants to see anymore — up to and including the big man, Yao Ming.”
“They don’t speak,” an extremely plugged-in person tells me. “And Yao wants him out.”
That’s not likely this season, as McGrady’s $20.3 million is toxic to too many teams’ luxury tax plans. Next summer, though, when McGrady will have an expiring, $22.4 million contract, teams may well circle the Rockets looking to make a deal.
It’s not personal between Yao and McGrady. They like one another. But Yao’s frustration is real. And Yao is not the only person that’s grown tired of McGrady’s self-diagnosis, his up-to-the-last-minute decisions on whether he’ll play or not. This isn’t questioning his toughness; McGrady took a bunch of pain-killing shots just to get through the first round of the playoffs. And it’s unfair of anyone to judge McGrady on his ability to play well in pain; some can, some can’t. Ron Artest wanted to keep playing on what the team is now calling a “stress reaction” in his ankle after gutting it out for a month, but he’s been shut down for a week to 10 days.
And it’s not McGrady’s fault that Artest is hurt, just as Shane Battier has been hurt most of the season, or that these Rockets — who were so resilient last season in winning 22 straight without Yao for a good chunk of that streak — haven’t shown much of that resolve.
But the sad irony is that McGrady has become Grant Hill, his former Orlando teammate who suffered through injury after injury after signing a huge, $93 million contract — a physical deterioration that wore on McGrady’s nerves as one Magic season after another was torched because of another Hill operation.
One veteran scout who worked a Rockets game recently was shocked by the deterioration in the still-29-year-old McGrady’s game.
“I thought to myself, ‘My God, he’s old,'” the scout said. “It was amazing.”