I know this feeling. You see, as a divorced father of three, my time spent
with my kids is chopped up into specifically, oftentimes legally mandated,
chunks whereby there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to any visit. The
beginning and the middle are great, but once the end is in sight, the last
day or two turn into all of us (me and the three Penderkids) trying to
stretch out the time knowing that inevitably goodbye is coming, and goodbye
is never fun, even if we all know it's only temporary.
That's a little how today feels, knowing that this time tomorrow it will be time for all of us to figuratively drive Tracy McGrady's Expiring Contract (T-MEC, for short) to the airport, give it a big hug, wipe the tears away from his eyes, and wave goodbye, letting him know full well we appreciate all of the playoff flameouts and every single one of the forty-seven minutes he played this season. Goodbye, T-MEC....be sure to call us when you get to LaGuardia...or Midway...or O'Hare...or....
At this point, that's where the intrigue lies. It doesn't seem to be a question anymore as to whether or not a Tracy McGrady's Expiring Contract deal gets done as much as where he will be shipped to and for whom/what. By now, you've probably seen the particulars, and there are still several moving parts (like the possibility of a third team getting involved in both deals), but as best we can tell the Rockets are mulling over the following transactions:
-- Sending T-MEC to the New York Knicks (along with Brian Cook's Expiring
Contract and Joey Dorsey's Fledgling Career) for Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries
(who next season will become Jared Jeffries' Expiring Contract), Larry
Hughes' Expiring Contract, and some amalgamation of the Knicks' first-round
picks in 2011 and 2012 with some "to be determined" level of lottery
protection (or not, depending on how desperate the Knicks get).
-- Sending T-MEC to the Chicago Bulls for some package centered around Tyrus Thomas and Brad Miller, and Jerome James, with the hold-up being the Bulls' desire to find some way to work Kirk Hinrich into the deal, or perhaps even John Salmons.
Ultimately, something will get done because both deals offer the Rockets young, cap-friendly assets and very little in the way of salary-cap/luxury tax albatrosses; plus, you have Rockets general manager Daryl Morey (who trains Jedi younglings into how to mind-trick Imperial Stormtroopers in his spare time) dangling ungodly cap space to two teams who are desperate to make a free-agent splash this off-season. (Hopefully, nobody tells them that there are only four, maybe five, free agents worth getting hot and bothered about, and around ten teams who think they can sign them.)
In short, the stars are aligned; ultimately, this should be Morey picking the best deal. If Daryl Morey is reading this (and really, what NBA general manager doesn't spend the twenty-four hours before the trade deadline reading mindless drivel from sports talk show hosts....what's that?....Isiah was the only one??....Shit.), I would ask --- nay, BEG of him to take the Knicks' offer in some shape, form, or fashion.
Why? Well, as usual with me, it has very little to do with what makes the Rockets marginally better (let's face it, neither deal is as important as Yao Ming's foot healing properly), but instead has more to do with what entertains the schadenfreude-friendly side of me that just loves a good train wreck. So what is it about the Knicks' deal that appeals to this devious sliver of my inner self? Well....
1.) T-MEC getting back on the court in MSG.
Hey, I love Houston as much as anybody. I'm on my second stint down here and have no intentions of ever leaving unless asked to. Part of the reason I (and many other native Northeasterners) like it down here is because people are friendly and have some sense of perspective on how important issues like "your two-guard's attitude problems" are in the grand scheme of things.
New Yorkers? Well, let's just say that "Knick Fan" and "perspective" don't often collide in the same sentence, unless the word "warped" makes an appearance. My point is that if New Yorkers have any expectations whatsoever that T-MEC can help them make a playoff run this season, they are going to be sorely disappointed when they watch Tracy and his revamped twelve-inch vertical take the court. And sorely disappointed New Yorkers are not fun New Yorkers, unless you're watching from Houston.
2.) T-MEC "recruiting" LeBron James.
Marc Stein actually wrote this in today's overview of where things stand between the Rockets and Knicks:
[Arn] Tellem initiated talks with the Knicks, who believe McGrady still can help New York make a bid for a playoff spot in the East and help persuade James to come to New York in July.
Wow. Are you kidding me?
Riiight, I know if I'm LeBron James and I'm desperate to win an NBA title, the first thing I'm going to do is scour all of the NBA rosters and see which teams have (a) salary cap space, (b) a solid, forward-thinking front office, and (c) a washed-up, diva two-guard who is coming off microfracture surgery and has never won a playoff series.
Seriously...Tracy helping recruit LeBron??? This would be like a college football team deciding to use the women's softball team as recruiting hostesses for a weekend when you're trying to lure blue-chip recruits a week before signing day.
3.) The Knicks potential for totally crapping out.
If the Knicks and Rockets end up doing a deal, if Morey can somehow squeeze as little lottery protection as possible from the Knicks on those first-round picks, we're all of a sudden looking at a potential implosion of a franchise that will make the Isiah Thomas Era look like the late `90's Bulls by comparison. Imagine if the Knicks say "yes" to the oodles of cap space the Rockets are waving at them, and in the process of getting that cap space give up last year's lottery pick (Hill) and potentially lottery picks in 2011 and 2012.
If they do this, the Knicks basically just became the dude that shredded his ATM card and decided to play one hand of blackjack with the last hundred bucks in his pocket. In other words, they have no "outs" -- strike out with LeBron (and Wade and Bosh and...) and you're just a team with a ton of money to spend on second- and third-tier guys to put around Eddy Curry with no influx of blue-chip youth any time soon.
In other words, you're the Knicks.
So Daryl Morey, I'm not asking you, I'm telling you...get it done. Not so much for the betterment of the Rockets, but so that we can all watch the Knicks crater from within.
In the meantime, Rockets fans....get out your Kleenex, for tomorrow appears
to be "good bye" time. This one's for you, T-MEC Fan....
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.