So it's finally happened.
As of earlier today, the Houston Rockets and disgruntled ex-star Tracy Mcgrady have decided that they will no longer attempt to keep up their recent facade of cooperation, with Mcgrady taking an indefinite leave from the team while we look to trade him . I can't really say this was unexpected, as we've been not-so-discreetly shopping T-Mac since last season and his banishment this weekend only made a trade all the more imminent.
I can say that I'm slightly disappointed both in Rockets' management (I know, blasphemy) and in Rick Adelman. First off, I'd like to qualify any forthcoming statements by saying that I think Adelman and Morey should win Coach and Executive of the Year, respectively. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I think we thoroughly mishandled this situation.
I was one of the (vocal) minority who believed that Mcgrady could return to being a productive player and possibly fill in our much-needed "closer" role. Mcgrady became even more potentially useful when Budinger went down with and ankle injuries and with Ariza's continuing futility on the offensive end, but more on that later.
What I loved, and still love, about Morey is how he manages to direct the team without ever actually interfering with it. He provides a roster with his handpicked gems and stays out of the way for the rest, allowing his players to prove time and again what a genius he is when it comes to finding talent.
Yet, in this situation, it was Morey who decided that Mcgrady would not play over the weekend. I'm sure this was exactly what Adelman wanted, so I can't really blame Morey, but I hope that this doesn't set a precedent of him taking too active of a role in actual game-decisions instead of sticking to personnel matters.
Although I run the risk of going overboard, I'm worried that Morey might follow the path set by Portland General Manager Kevin Pritchard. For the past few years Pritchard was lauded as brilliant, making flurries of draft day moves and putting together an extremely promising and young Trailblazers team.
Yet, this past offseason, with his past success and building external pressure slowly getting to him, Pritchard decided to sign Andre Miller, seemingly only to make a proverbial splash in the free agent market. Three months later, Miller still isn't meshing with Brandon Roy and there are already trade rumors swirling around him.
But at the same time, it's nearly impossible to doubt Morey after considering how unbelievable he's been since taking over the Rockets.
He's made moves that I was openly against before and made me look like a dumbass with their results (see Alston, Rafer), so I can't really bring myself to doubt him, seeing as the man, to fill my quota of at least one cliched, overused sports phrase, has forgotten more about basketball than I'll ever know.
Plus, I think Morey is infinitely smarter than Pritchard and won't allow this to happen to him, I'd just like to point out that perfection for a General Manager is hardly permanent.
So, in spite of my disagreement with Morey on this particular issue, I still feel that if I had to trust one decision that I didn't like it would be one made by Daryl Morey, and I'm confident that he knows what he's doing.
My real issue lies with Rick Adelman. Adelman has been phenomenal this season and, like I said earlier, is my favorite for Coach of the Year, but I really don't think he handled the Mcgrady situation objectively.
I feel that part of Morey's seven-minute limit on Mcgrady's playing time partially had to do with how Mcgrady jerked himself in and out of the season last year and his subsequent announcing of his intention to undergo a micro-fracture surgery without consulting with the team first.
Although I'd hate to sound too lambasting-y, I think Adelman was too quick to discount Mcgrady when he could have provided the Rockets with exactly what we needed, a wing who can score and distribute while creating shots for himself and others at the end of games.
Plus, Mcgrady could have at least provided some respite for Ariza, who's struggles have gotten progressively worse as the season, well, progresses. He's been an offensive liability like no other, stopping ball movement, struggling to create off the dribble, turning the ball over and putting up bad shot after bad shot.
Plus, he seems to be regressing on defense, either as a result of sheer exhaustion or overconfidence, as he's been gambling for steals rather than playing solid, gritty, Battier-defense more and more as of late. But I don't want to turn this post into a flaming of Ariza, since, you know, what the hell else am I going to write about now that this Mcgrady saga is over?
Poor jokes aside, the point is that this article isn't about Ariza's struggles, so with the permission of you, my loyal and most-likely slightly bored reader, I'd like to move on.
What I'm circuitously getting at is despite whatever minor issues I might have with our nearly-flawless management, the fact remains that we're currently 18-13 with no help from Mcgrady and clearly didn't (don't) need him.
The question that begs to be answered now is what to do with what will now be referred to has Tracy Mcgrady's Expiring Contract, or, if you're a fan of less technical phrases, The Way We're Going to Trick Some Poor-As-Hell Team Into Giving Us A Star.
In spite of all of his flaws (and they are plentiful in number, I don't think there's much argument on that point), Mcgrady did one thing right: his contract expires at the perfect time. In a downtrodden economy, with teams struggling to break even while anxiously hiding their metaphorical boners for the clusterfuck that is the 2010 free agency period, the time is ripe for Daryl Morey to make a fool out of someone.
Bill Simmons has a few ideas of his own , my favorite being the deal for Chris Paul. They all follow a similar format, which is basically us giving up Tracy Mcgrady (and possibly Scola and/or Brooks depending on the caliber of the player we're getting back, the Paul deal has us giving them both) while taking back a slew of terrible contracts and one potential star/superstar/superduperstar.
So, in a roundabout and unnecessarily painful way, Mcgrady might actually end up giving us that legitimate go-to guy this year, except not by actually playing but from a series of events that started with his micro-fracture surgery in the off-season and culminating in his exile from the team for what can only be properly described as "incessant bitching."
So, thanks for the memories T-Mac, there definitely were some good ones. Namely, this one . And this one . Shit, I meant this one . And, if all goes right, thanks even more for what you're about to net us sometime between now and the February trade deadline.
And, as always, go Rockets.