With 11 players currently signed, the Chicago Bulls have nearly completed an offseason that may have started with disappointment but ended with a solid roster.
With approximately $3 million left for the final roster spot, the Bulls have a chance to make an already strong group of players even stronger.
By signing Tracy McGrady.
I've gone back and forth on this idea over the past week, even writing a comprehensive buyer's guide that has fewer pros than cons for T-Mac.
Still, I've decided that if McGrady pulls off a good showing for the Bulls organization at his Monday workout, both physically and mentally, then he may actually be worth a shot for Chicago.
Team doctors must OK McGrady's knee
There's no point in signing a player that's just going to sit on the bench nursing an injury the entire season. McGrady may have lost a step or two on the court, but can still be a valuable player—provided that he actually plays.
McGrady recently tweeted, "feel good... knee where it should be but still a process...."
That hardly sounds like a resounding "I'm back!" from the former scoring champion.
No team wants to sign McGrady and then have him get injured, but that certainly doesn't mean they want to sign McGrady and then have him play conservatively for fear of aggravating a previous injury.
If the Bulls do sign McGrady, he should not under any circumstance be the starting shooting guard. That's Brewer's role. It will also save him from having to play extended minutes that could cause the 31-year-old to break down physically.
Sounds great, right?
A former scoring champion and seven-time All-Star as a backup shooting guard? Even still, another condition must hold for the Bulls to sign T-Mac.
McGrady must be willing to accept a reduced role
Let's face it. NBA shooting guards are the equivalent of NFL wide receivers; they are all divas.
Should the Bulls sign T-Mac, he may only play 15-20 minutes a game. Kyle Korver can play some shooting guard, as can C.J. Watson, a combo guard. He's not even going to get near the 26 minutes per game he got in New York last year.
Will McGrady be willing to leave his ego at the door and basically admit that he is no longer an elite basketball player?
He says it won't be a problem.
"Whatever role they need me to play... 6'8" so i can create mismatch here and there ya kno," McGrady tweeted to a fan asking about how he would fit in Chicago.
What he described is exactly what Chicago needs him for and, if that indeed is his mentality, he will be a perfect fit with the Bulls.
McGrady would fit right into an already tall Bulls team. At 6'8'', he can play shooting guard or small forward.
Not many shooting guards are near his height, and even though he's lost some of his explosiveness, he can still use his body to back down smaller defenders and exploit mismatches. Undoubtedly, McGrady is a valuable asset, especially against the second units of opposing teams.
The Bulls bench contains several nice pieces, but pure scoring is hard to come by.
Watson seems capable of putting up points in transition and off the pick-and-roll, but he will primarily play point guard and will be used more as a facilitator.
Korver needs someone else to set up his shots. He's no good one-on-one.
Taj Gibson scores on putbacks and within the offensive gameplan. Omer Asik is an unknown and seems to be more of a raw talent.
So where does the scoring come from?
Suddenly the Bulls have a player on the floor who can score in spurts and force opposing defenses to collapse on him, making the other four players more capable of scoring themselves.
Even though McGrady can't do that for 40 minutes a game like he used to, just 10 will make an enormous difference.
McGrady would solidify the Bulls' second unit and keep up the team's scoring while Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng are sitting out.
Now as long as he's fine with that role and doesn't expect to be the starter, Chicago shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on signing T-Mac.
McGrady must accept a small contract
Under no circumstance should the Bulls sign McGrady to a contract longer than two years, or more than $2 million per year.
That's where Chicago could run into problems.
The Los Angeles Clippers seem willing to offer a contract near the mid-level exception to McGrady, which is more than $3 million more than the Bulls would offer in my scenario.
$3 million is a lot of money for a player in McGrady's situation to turn down.
Still, all indications are that McGrady wants to play for a contender. The question is if he will take a pay-cut to do so.
"They are very high on list ralph...roster, organization, fans. bona fide sports town.. flirted w/ idea for yrs.. maybe now its on," McGrady tweeted in regards to playing for Chicago.
He previously mentioned that he has almost signed with the Bulls several times in his career and that this time could be "fate."
If he believes that fate is dictating him playing with the Bulls, then he had better see a small contract in his future.The Bulls have done too well this offseason to make a mistake with their final roster signing.
Some may say that taking on the aging T-Mac is a bad move on management's part, but if these three conditions are met, McGrady could be the final bench player the Bulls need to become an even more legitimate contender for the NBA Championship.