Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 3
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report reported on Tracy McGrady's potential comeback:
Would've been fun to see a TMac comeback w/Kobe. Not going to happen. Has China tour in Oct that interferes w/training camp.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) September 3, 2014
Now that he's officially retired from the diamond, Tracy McGrady is apparently headed back to the hardwood.
In an email exchange with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, McGrady confirmed he's currently working out with Kobe Bryant in hopes of seeing whether his body could handle an NBA comeback next season.
"Yes, I was working out with K.B. to get in shape and see how my body feels," McGrady said.
McGrady, 35, retired after 16 NBA seasons last August. He last played with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013 postseason, failing to score a point while missing all seven of his shot attempts. Before joining San Antonio, McGrady spent most of the 2012-13 campaign with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.
His last meaningful NBA stint came with the Atlanta Hawks in 2011-12, when he averaged 5.3 points per contest in 52 games off the bench.
After retiring, McGrady briefly pursued a baseball career with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, an independent outfit that was once the home to Roger Clemens.
He retired from baseball after recording a strikeout in the league's All-Star Game, giving up five runs in his 6.2 innings pitched for the Skeeters.
Tracy McGrady is eyeing a possible NBA comeback. Less than 3 months ago he was playing professional baseball for the @SL_Skeeters— Nick Hamelin (@NickHamelinMLB) September 3, 2014
It will be interesting to see whether McGrady's comeback proves successful. In Atlanta and San Antonio, McGrady looked like a broken-down version of himself who was hanging on for one more check (with the Hawks) and a possible ring (with the Spurs).
Never an elite shooter and with his knee injuries having long since sapped his formerly prodigious athleticism, one has to wonder what McGrady could possibly offer an NBA team.
Wojnarowski's report noted that McGrady's representatives touched base with two teams attempting to drum up a market. Both declined interest.
McGrady himself isn't even sure how much interest he has in returning to the day-to-day NBA grind. He told Wojnarowski no official decision will be made regarding his basketball future until at least October, when he'll return from a trip to China.
"The comeback will not happen, unless I have the drive whenever I get back," McGrady said.
Ultimately, a return to China might be McGrady's best bet if he wants to keep playing professional basketball. While his team didn't have much success during his season in Qingdao, his individual numbers were in-his-prime great. He was named to the All-CBA third team and remains a well-liked figure.
It's possible that he might even make more money in China than he would in the United States, where NBA teams are unlikely to offer much more than a non-guaranteed minimum contract.
Stephon Marbury is just one of a handful of former players who have found something resembling a home in China. McGrady is a much more accomplished NBA player and might perform even better in a second Chinese go-around knowing it's not just a stopgap before a comeback stateside.
No matter his desire, odds are we've seen the last of McGrady playing basketball in the U.S.
Unless a team is desperate for a veteran voice to mentor young players—think Chauncey Billups on last year's Pistons or Derek Fisher basically anywhere for the past half-decade—he's going to have a tough time earning a gig on talent alone.
Of course, this is a shame to anyone old enough to remember McGrady soaring to superstardom in Orlando.
Once upon a time, "Kobe versus T-Mac" was a legitimate debate. Now, Bryant's gearing up for a comeback to widespread fanfare, and ShamSports indicates he will make $23.5 million in 2014-15. McGrady will be lucky to get a tryout.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter @tylerconway22.