Tracy McGrady is still standing out in the cold


Thumbnail image for mcgrady_runs.jpgTracy McGrady has had two workouts for teams.

There was the Clippers, but that was almost considered a favor for his agent and an effort to put pressure on Chicago to act. The Clippers roster is was fairly set and McGrady was not going to be part of it unless he blew them away. He didn’t.

Then there was Chicago, who needed a floor spacing wing man to come off the bench. He had his workout and… the Bulls yesterday signed Keith Bogans to a deal.

McGrady knows what that means, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

It’s been nearly two weeks since McGrady’s audition at Chicago’s practice facility, when he appeared to create his own obstacles to landing a Bogans-esque deal by following up the workout with a flurry of comments that suggest he still sees himself on Carlos Boozer’s level … when the Bulls were hoping to hear accept-any-role humility.

McGrady’s other problem was the Bulls also were (and are) intrigued by Rudy Fernandez, the Portland guard who wants to be a guard anywhere but Portland. The issue there, according to Stein, is that Portland wanted Taj Gibson and Chicago was only offering a pick. Those two sides remain far, far apart.

Which doesn’t really help McGrady.

After the Bulls and Clippers worked him out and then went in different directions — and with the Miami Heat seemingly out of roster room and thought to be highly hesitant to bring in big names for the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh supporting cast — there are no other known suitors in circulation for T-Mac.

And in the wake of what happened with Allen Iverson last year, teams will be hesitant to bring in an aging player with a big personality who still thinks he can play a big role, when his body keeps him from that level.

Shaq still wants to play in Boston. Or wherever they will pay him.


shaq_o'neal.jpgIt should be Shaq vs. Free Agency.

And right now free agency is winning — Shaquille O’Neal remains without a team. But on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show Monday night (or early Tuesday morning, if you prefer) Shaq said he would love to play in Boston.

“Celtics would be a good program.”

Shaq said he was on the “730 day program” meaning he wants to play two more years. And he said despite having played for the Lakers, he’d have no problem putting on a Celtics uniform.

The question remains money and fit. Shaq still wants to get paid, at least the mid-level exception of $5.8 million but the reported offers coming in are much smaller. In addition, contending teams are questioning if the big personality of Shaq is worth it for a backup center.

He can still play, he will eventually come to terms with some team. But those terms may be the team’s, not Shaq’s.

Knicks make offer for Shannon Brown


Thumbnail image for SBrown_acrobat.jpgThe Lakers are waiting to sign Shannon Brown, hoping to move Sasha Vujacic’s $5.5 million to save some money first.

The Knicks aren’t waiting, they have jumped in.

New York has made an offer to Brown, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports. They are waiting to hear back, Brown is choosing whether to go to New York, Cleveland or wait to see of the Lakers can indeed move Vujacic.

Brown is an explosive athlete who finishes with authority on the break — a very good fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system in New York. With Amare Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph and Brown, the Knicks could be their own dunk highlight reel this season. Oh, and Felton Brown would be pretty happy.

The Lakers would prefer Brown to Vujacic backing up Kobe, but they are already the highest payroll team in the league and are looking for ways to trim that a little. Moving Vujacic would be a big help, but finding a taker who can give only a non-guaranteed deal or picks back is a challenge.

Rudy Gay is just like you – he was surprised by the Grizzlies contract offer

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Thumbnail image for nba_gay.jpgWhen the Memphis Grizzlies raced out of the gate to offer Rudy Gay a max deal (five years, $84 million) on the first day of free agency, it was as shocking as seeing a good new episode of Entourage. Nobody saw it coming.

That includes Rudy Gay, as he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“I was surprised,” he said. “Actually, I was really surprised. When I found out they did that, I was like, ‘Wow.’ “

More money means the expectations game changes for Gay. He goes from being the “he’ll be special if he can get it all together” to being the “he’s making max money, what is wrong with him?” guy.

Gay is a slasher, but he needs some consistency beyond 15 feet now. Gay scored 19.6 points per game last season for the Grizzlies but needed 16 shots a game to do it — he has got to become more efficient.

Memphis was everybody’s favorite little surprise last year, but this year they will not surprise anybody. They added some depth with Tony Allen and draft pick Xavier Henry (if they ever stop playing around and sign him). But it will come down to player improvement, and Rudy Gay will now take too much blame or get too much credit for what happens. It comes with the max contract (down in the fine print).

Chris Paul to sit down with Hornets while his agent fields trade requests


cpaul_points.jpgIf you’re a team interested in trading for Chris Paul, don’t send your request to the New Orleans Hornets, they’re not interested. Paul has two years left on his deal and the Hornets want to keep him.

Send it instead to Leon Rose, Paul’s agent with Creative Artists Agency. He’s the one listening to offers and trying to set up a deal. You can also go through back channels with William Wesley to get a deal set up.

That’s really the state of this with Paul.

Monday Paul is going to sit down with members of the Hornets front office, including new general manager Dell Demps and new coach Monty Williams. And the Hornets will be serving plenty of Kool-Aid — “we’re going to build a contender here with you as the centerpiece.” “You are the heart and soul of this franchise.”

And Paul’s first question should be, “Who is going to own this team come the start of the season?” Is it George Shinn or Gary Chouest? If the Hornets can answer that — and they may not be able to — the next questions are about how much they can and will spend. The Hornets have reportedly tried to make deals that dump salary this summer, not add players.

Paul wants to win, and win now. He can see that future in New York or Orlando or Portland or Dallas, but not in New Orleans. He has gone off like Kobe did 2007, but the Lakers actually had some pieces (they had Andrew Bynum and were not going to trade him for what’s left of Jason Kidd) and some expiring deals they could turn into players. And the Lakers could spend — Los Angeles has always been profitable, and the team generates a lot of revenue. The Hornets are not a team deep in the black.

The Lakers could wait Kobe out. The Hornets say they are not trading Paul, but can they afford to wait him out? How will Paul’s request impact revenues?

Paul’s agent Leon Rose is not waiting. He is the one fielding trade offers, according to a story in the Times-Picayune.

“No one from our camp has said that Chris demanded a trade,” a Paul confidante said Thursday. “But they (Hornets) have not put themselves in position to win this season. We have the same team as last year, basically. The only thing that matters to Chris is winning.”

“Are they even calling guys and trying to get them to play?” the source said. “We would have loved to hear that Mike (Miller) had narrowed his choices down to the Hornets and Heat. But we’re never in the running for players.”

Which in the end comes down to ownership. Which remains unsettled in New Orleans. And until that situation is settled, Paul can be as frustrated as he wants there will be no good answers.