McGrady hopes to be a part of Knicks' turnaround

Published February 19, 2010

| AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Tracy McGrady is going to get a chance to show he is still a top NBA player.

And he wants to stick around if the New York Knicks bring in some bigger stars this summer, even if it means taking less money.

McGrady joined the Knicks on Friday after being acquired in a three-team trade a day earlier. He said he is nearly 100 percent after microfracture knee surgery, vowing that, "This is not the same Tracy from last season, when I was hobbling on one leg."

The seven-time All-Star knows he could just be a short-term rental before the Knicks pursue players such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade this summer, but said he would take a considerable pay cut from this season's $22.5 million salary to stay in New York if the Knicks got those types of players.

"I've made a lot of money over my career and I could retire right now and I could be fine financially. My kids can be fine when they get older. Money is not an issue for me," McGrady said.

"So if these guys were to bring in a LeBron, a D-Wade, along with a Chris Bosh or a (Amare) Stoudemire, I'd be a damn fool to not want to stay here. So I'm just telling you right now that I will definitely embrace the opportunity to be here. Money is not an issue."

McGrady said the Knicks were his preference once Houston decided to try to trade him, adding he would have sought a buyout if he were sent elsewhere. He finally got his wish Thursday in a three-team deal that included Sacramento, saying he was disappointed this season by a lack of communication from Rockets management.

"I didn't know. I really didn't know," McGrady said. "And that's just the unfortunate situation, that I just like for management to be upfront and honest with me. That's all I ask, honesty. And if we can't sit and have a conversation eye to eye and be honest with me, then all the respect and trust goes out the window."

Though he has played only six games this season after the knee operation a year ago this month, McGrady will be featured by a Knicks team that has only faint playoff hopes. That could start as early as Saturday, when McGrady and fellow newcomer Sergio Rodriguez could debut against Oklahoma City.

And it'll be in Mike D'Antoni's old offense. The Knicks traded away big men Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill in the deal for McGrady, so they're going to be undersized and have to try to run teams out of the building the way D'Antoni's Suns did.

"We're going back, speed it up again," D'Antoni said. "We're going to have to spread the floor and we're going to have to score."

McGrady once seemed an ideal player for that style, averaging 21.9 points and winning a pair of scoring titles in 13 seasons. But the 30-year-old swingman has played just 41 games the last two seasons, and D'Antoni said they're anxious to see his health.

"Stay tuned," McGrady said. "Only thing I can do is just go out there and play my game and be me."

D'Antoni had Stoudemire in Phoenix, so he's had experience coaching players coming back from microfracture surgery.

"There were no restrictions on Amare and there were days you'd go, 'I don't know if he's quite back' and there were days you'd go, 'Oh man, he's back,'" D'Antoni said. "So a little up and down, a little roller-coaster."

The Knicks can accept that, because everything they've done has positioned the team for the summer, not this season. Their moves Thursday left them with nearly enough money to offer maximum salary contracts to two top players.

McGrady realizes he's lost his place in that category and now would be happy just to join them when basketball turns around in New York.

"Last couple of years I've been injured, so I recognize that," he said. "And I realize that you've got one of the best players in our league that's going to be a free agent. You've got a couple of them. LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Stoudemire, I recognize that. Those guys are on top right now. I'm just a guy that was injured. No sweat, I'll just come out here, do what I've got to do for two months, and then I can put my name back in there.

"Now don't get me wrong, if I come back and I'm healthy and I'm playing well, we're obviously going to do some negotiating. But what I'm saying is if a LeBron comes here or a D-Wade comes here and you're matching them with, pairing them up with Stoudemire or Chris Bosh, I know I'm not going to get the big bucks, but save a little for me."

NOTES: Eddie House, acquired from Boston in the Nate Robinson deal, wasn't yet available but could be Saturday. ... The Knicks waived Brian Cardinal, acquired from Minnesota on Wednesday for Darko Milicic.

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