"It's how a guy fits into your team," Tom Thibodeau said on an ESPN 1000 radio show last year regarding the possibility of the Bulls signing Tracy McGrady. "He's had a long, distinguished career. He's had injuries, and durability is an issue, but I still think he can help a team."
Well, cross the Bulls off the list of teams he can help.
The Bulls had a 62-20 record last season because of two things: reigning most valuable player Derrick Rose and their smothering defense. Rose was ball-dominant, and rightly so, because he was able to make the correct decision most of the time.
McGrady only became effective in Detroit after he became the point guard of the team and started each possession with the ball.
That is not going to be the case in Chicago.
Should McGrady join the Bulls, he would definitely play either the shooting guard or small forward position. The Bulls already have C.J Watson as Rose's back-up and Jannero Pargo and John Lucas the other two point guards in the squad.
Provided that Keith Bogans (who is a free agent) and Luol Deng remain as starters, the minutes saved for the bench will be split between Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and potentially McGrady. While T-Mac is indeed the better overall player among the three, he does not play a certain role like the other two—making it difficult for Thibodeau to use him in key situations.
Should Thibodeau adopt a defensive lineup, Brewer or Bogans would get the nod over McGrady. McGrady lost most of his quickness when he was injured and would struggle against potential playoff opponents such as Paul Pierce and LeBron James.
At a time when the Bulls need someone to score and to make shots, Korver also would get the nod over McGrady. McGrady attempted just seven shots per game last season and shot just over one three-pointer per game, making 34.1 percent of his attempts beyond the arc.
Compared to other potential free-agent shooting guards that the Bulls might choose, McGrady is at a clear disadvantage. He does not do anything better than anyone else, which makes him useless on a team where role players are all specialists and defense is emphasized.
If the Bulls are looking for scoring ability, then Marcus Thornton is a better choice. If the Bulls are looking for defense, they should select DeShawn Stevenson or Arron Afflalo.
There is simply no reason to pick McGrady over the others.
Given Thibodeau's tendency to play Deng even in garbage time, it is difficult to imagine McGrady obtaining anything more than a DNP-CD per game with the Bulls.
The former scoring champion should look for another team with a more fitting system to continue his potential rejuvenation—and the Bulls should look elsewhere to improve their title aspirations.