What Tracy McGrady Will Bring to San Antonio Spurs' Playoff Push
The San Antonio Spurs have stayed relatively free of the menacing grasp of Father Time by bolstering their veteran crop with young, talented players.
But the franchise's latest talent grab came by way of the veteran free-agent ranks with a move to fortify its already potent postseason roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Tracy McGrady will sign with the San Antonio Spurs for the rest of the season, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 16, 2013
Few basketball names can elicit such a fervent reaction as McGrady, a seven-time All-Star and two-time scoring champ during the apex of his 15-year career.
But a series of debilitating knee injuries and the subsequent toll they took on his formerly gaudy statistics saw McGrady enter the 2012-13 season without an NBA home. So he was forced to take his talents far from South Beach, or any other American soil, and inked a one-year deal with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Despite being the leading vote-getter in the CBA All-Star Game by more than a half-million votes (via SharkFinHoops.com), his journey wasn't exactly a Stephon Marbury-level redemption (via Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports).
Thanks to McGrady's overseas venture, though, he will be eligible to play for the Spurs in the postseason since he has not played for another NBA team this season (according to Ben Golliver of SI.com).
Even pessimistic Spurs fans can appreciate the impact of the image of a black-and-silver-clad McGrady that ESPN's Darren Rovell tweeted earlier:
darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 16, 2013
McGrady's addition coming on the heels of Stephen Jackson's release last Friday provides some early insight into what the former Houston Rockets star's role might be with his new club.
Prior to his release, Jackson had logged 19.5 minutes per game, three minutes more than McGrady gave the Atlanta Hawks last season. McGrady wasn't quite his former self in Atlanta, but he wasn't suffering through the horrendous shooting season that Jackson had displayed this year (T-Mac: 43.7 field-goal percentage, 45.5 three-point percentage; Jackson: 37.3 and 27.1).
While it's hard to speculate about what the 33-year-old McGrady will bring to his new club, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News was having a harder time seeing any negatives stemming from the addition:
All in all, good low-risk move. Maybe he helps. No way he makes you worse.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 16, 2013
The upside of adding a player of McGrady's caliber is obvious. With Manu Ginobili (hamstring) and Tony Parker (neck, ankle) nursing various ailments, San Antonio could be in dire need of a reliable playmaker.
Although he's more widely known for his scoring outbursts, McGrady has always been a competent creator for himself (19.6-point-per-game career average) and for his teammates (4.4 career assists per game against 2.2 turnovers).
The Spurs, though, may be hoping for a selfish McGrady. San Antonio boasts the league's fourth-best scoring offense (103.1 points per game, via ESPN.com), but has topped the century mark just twice over its last nine games (via Basketball-Reference.com).
Surely, losing players like Parker (who has played in nine of the Spurs' last 21 games) and Ginobili (who hasn't played since March 29) would damage any offensive unit. But it's been particularly harmful to the Spurs, who employ so many players reliant on others to create offensive chances for them.
Did the Spurs make the right move by adding McGrady?
McGrady may not be a dominant scorer at this stage of his career, but he's a valuable asset to this club if he can bring 15-plus productive minutes to the floor each night.
Often, the success of adding a past-his-prime veteran is highly dependent on that player bringing the right attitude to his new locker room. To McGrady's credit, it sounds as if he's more than ready to embrace his new surroundings, telling ESPN.com's Chris Broussard he's "just glad to be a part of this environment" and thanking Spurs nation for its outpouring of support through his Twitter account:
I can't promise you what, if any, on-court gains this move will have netted the Spurs.
But I can guarantee that the club the common fan deems "successfully boring" just became a tad more exciting entering its annual playoff push.
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