WRITER'S NOTE: The original source of quotes for this article was the Chicago Tribune. Since this story was published, the Tribune has changed the wording of the quotes used, altering the use of the pronoun "we" and adding "points" to the phrase "30 points better."
Either Tracy McGrady is bad at math, has trouble articulating proper math, or is just very, very bullish on the Chicago Bulls' outlook for the upcoming season.
Regardless, McGrady heaped praise on the Bulls after working out for the team on Monday, and the 6'8'' free agent called Chicago his No. 1 destination.
"I'd fit in well. I'd bring what I know about the game and my athleticism and versatility. Knowing my smarts for the game, leadership, anything I can add to help these guys over the edge. Without me, without (Carlos) Boozer, they were a .500 club. With the guys that they added, and if you add me, I think we'll be 30 points better." McGrady said, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Now the question is, what did he mean by "30 points better?"
If he meant adding 30 wins to a .500 record of 41-41, then he's saying the Bulls will end the regular season with an overall record of 71-11. That's nearly the 1995-1996 team's 72-10 mark.
T-Mac shouldn't flatter himself. Boozer is good. McGrady could be good.
Still, this team is not going to win more than 70 games. More than 50 would be a realistic improvement.
That's also more realistic in terms of what he meant, as 30 games above .500 (rather than 30 wins better than .500, a subtle but crucial distinction) leaves Chicago at 56-26, a record fitting for the third or fourth seed in the East.
As I previously wrote, McGrady needs to leave his ego behind and accept a bench role if he wants the Bulls to give him a chance.
Well, so much for that happening.
Beyond suggesting that he and Boozer would make a tremendous impact on the team's record, he also did not fully commit to being a role player this season.
"If I was the player I was in a Knicks uniform, I would have no problem coming off the bench," McGrady said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "But I have worked extremely hard and I'm far from that player. It's up to me in training camp to prove I'm a starter."
No, no, no.
McGrady needs to get this through his mind: He will not be a starter in Chicago.
It really doesn't matter what he "proves" to Tom Thibodeau, Gar Forman, or Derrick Rose. His role on this team will be as a scorer off the bench and a situational guy to generate mismatches on both ends of the floor.
Chicago already has a starting shooting guard.
His name is Ronnie Brewer.
Like his poor use of numbers, it seems unlikely the Bulls organization will take much away from McGrady's comments after his workout.
That doesn't take away from the fact that his statements are concerning.
What the Bulls are building is a team that is unselfish and without an attention-hogging superstar. In other words, the opposite of Miami, which has three egomaniacs and a bunch of random parts to fill out the roster.
The Bulls' thinking toward signing McGrady is spot-on. He is worth the risk, provided that he meet a few criteria.
It seems doubtful those will be met, or at least not without a struggle.
The problem for the Bulls is McGrady is such a wild card, such a potential game changer, that it is hard to say "no" and go sign Keith Bogans or Roger Mason Jr.
Yes, those guys probably fit better into the system.
Yet, the Bulls had a system under Scott Skiles, back when the "core" of Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon was still together.
Look how far it got them. Knocked out of the second round.
Expectations are high for this new-and-improved Bulls squad. Chicago is undoubtedly in the same class as Boston, Orlando, and Miami, but whether they can topple them with their current roster is highly suspect.
With Tracy McGrady playing at 75 percent of his pre-injury level off the bench, the Bulls would definitely be better.
Perhaps not 30 games better in the regular season. But maybe they would win an extra game per playoff series with T-Mac on board.
That's a smaller number McGrady can handle.
Let's just hope he can live with a smaller role as well.
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