Tracy McGrady on Going to Detroit: 'My Game Will Do the Talking'
McGrady has been laying low since he agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons earlier this week – a one-year deal for the NBA minimum of $1.35 million – and he won't be saying much until it becomes official next week.
Yet he also believes the Pistons could be getting a bargain when he shows the rest of the league what they were missing, turning away this summer after watching him struggle through back and knee injuries, and an arduous rehabilitation, the past couple seasons.
"My game this season will do all the talking I need to do now,'' McGrady told FanHouse Friday when reached on his cell phone. "There's no need for me to say anything else at this point.''
McGrady declined to discuss specifics, but he clearly is miffed that most everyone around the league believes he is finished at age 31, that his once-dazzling skills have eroded so badly that he wasn't worth seriously considering as a free agent.
McGrady was the league's highest paid player last season at $23.5 million, looking like a shell of his former self first in Houston and then with the New York Knicks.
McGrady is a two-time league scoring champ who once scored 62 points for Orlando against Washington in 2004. The season before, he scored 46 points in the playoffs against the Pistons.
He also hasn't been fully healthy since the 2004-05 season. He missed 34 games during the 2005-06 season and missed 16 games in 2007-08. He missed 99 games over the past two seasons following microfracture surgery to his knee.
He now feels better than he has in years. He worked out in Chicago for the Bulls, yet they didn't like what they saw and heard from him. The Clippers considered signing him, but opted against it. The Knicks had no interest in bringing him back. The Cavs considered him, but changed their minds.
He was knocking on doors this summer, but no one was answering.
The Pistons, who won just 27 games last season, believe that McGrady still can help them return to the playoffs next season. No one is expecting the McGrady of his prime – one of the most dynamic players in basketball -- but they still believe he is versatile enough and smart enough to help them regain some respectability.
With a veteran crew that includes Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton, the Pistons aren't ready to tear down the house and completely rebuild. The addition of McGrady only amplifies their belief that they can patch together another run at the lower-level playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
They have had success in the past with reclamation projects, getting productivity from both Antonio McDyess and Ben Wallace in recent seasons after others considered them done.
McGrady is itching to prove he still can play in the league, that a comeback season is not too far away.