It was 84 days ago, on November 20, 2009, when GM Donnie Walsh muttered the following words and disappointed New York Knicks fans who desperately sought an elixir to numb their pain.
"I've always admired him," Walsh said. "I think he'd be a great addition for a team that's in a different position than we're in and I hope he gets picked up."
And with that, the hearts of Knicks fans who had been screaming, "get him, get him...what do we have to lose?" became heavy again. This was their chance to bring in an exciting player, a two-guard with a big name and multiple All-Star appearances and scoring titles.
Walsh passed. The Knicks were not getting Allen Iverson.
The very next day, Newsday's Alan Hahn reported the Knicks were talking to the Houston Rockets about Tracy McGrady. Hahn said "multiple sources" told him the Knicks had been trying to pry McGrady from the Rockets since the summer.
Since the summer?
Hold up, let me get this straight.
The Knicks were pursuing McGrady for months before the Iverson trade rumors entered the picture. Knicks fans got excited and screamed they wanted Iverson, but Walsh said no. Unhappy with the decision, angry fans took to the New York airwaves where they openly questioned and criticized Walsh.
The very next day a local sports reporter said the Knicks passed on Iverson because they had their sights on McGrady. The fans breathed a sigh of relief and went back to thinking, "it's okay, we have a plan." Walsh was saved.
Then December and January passed with absolutely zero talk about McGrady.
Now, six days before the trade deadline, T-Mac is all over the back pages of the New York tabloids again.
This doesn't seem the least bit fishy to you? You mean to tell me both Walsh and Rockets GM Daryl Morey have been discussing a McGrady trade for over eight months and have yet to reach an agreement? But now talks are heating up all of a sudden?
I'm not buying it.
Sounds to me like another attempt by Walsh to show fans he's actively working to improve the team when the reality is he isn't. After all, what could one washed-up guard (McGrady) possibly offer the Knicks that another (Iverson) could not? Both would have been gimmick moves at this point in their careers.
While it would be nice for the Rockets to get something, anything—even just a warm body and a draft pick--for McGrady, the truth is they do not need to deal him. They have 31 games left to play in the season and then he walks. McGrady is and has been home playing XBox; he's not with the team, being a distraction.
I'm sure Morey is making his rounds and checking to see what he can get, if anything, for McGrady. But he knows a deal involving the ex-star would be complicated (maybe this is why he and Walsh couldn't strike a deal). The Rockets would need to take back contracts in the ballpark dollar amount of what's left on McGrady's $22.2 million deal.
This means the Rockets would likely need to take back Jared Jeffries (one year, $6.8 million) or Eddy Curry (one year, $11.3 million). Or if a third team is involved—Washington is rumored to be—either the Rockets or the third team would have to take back one of these players (or the Rockets could take an equally undesirable contract from the third team).
If you're the Rockets, why do this? To add Caron Butler for one year? To make a one-and-done playoff appearance this year? Morey is going to add Jeffries or Curry or DeShawn Stevenson for this ?
I'll believe it when I see it.
Until the Knicks convince the Rockets to tack on unnecessary payroll, and a trade happens, these talks have been nothing more than a Donnie Walsh Media Production.