Welp: Spurs sign Tracy (bleeping) McGrady for playoff run
One of the most drama-filled years in San Antonio’s recent history has just hit its peak.
The Spurs, fresh off releasing Stephen Jackson, have signed Tracy McGrady with just one game remaining in the season. Yes, that Tracy McGrady.
Formerly a brilliant scorer and young NBA superstar, T-Mac has averaged 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season while playing for Qingdao of the Chinese Basketball League, but he’s back in United States because ‘YOLO,’ basically. If waiving Jack was a shocker, signing the 33-year-old — 67 in basketball years — with the postseason right around the corner is nearly enough to make you spit your drink all over your sandwich at lunch (which basically just happened). It’s yet another bizarre sequence of events in a season full of them for San Antonio.
On the surface, it’s headline-grabbing just because of his name. But if you dig only a little deeper you’ll find the signing of McGrady makes perfect sense for a team now lacking this exact type of player.
San Antonio was basically void of a backup small forward (Matt Bonner hilariously started at the position last night with Kawhi Leonard sitting) after the dismissal of Jackson. So signing a versatile forward like McGrady to the mix allows the Spurs to stay big on the perimeter while adding a complete skill-set to a group that is in need of help at the moment. T-Mac is capable of playing both forward and guard positions and is an exceptional passer at 6-foot-8. But he was always known for his massive scoring nights as a member of the Orlando Magic.
McGrady led the league in scoring in two consecutive seasons a decade ago, but those days are long gone. If anything, the way he plays now is a sort of hybrid between what Boris Diaw does and what Jack did, except likely with a bit more punch in the points category. With the way Jack shot the ball this season and Diaw’s reluctance to score, any additional contributions would help. At worst, T-Mac is better than the empty chair at the end of the 15-man bench.
To be clear: this is not the McGrady of old. This is the one we saw struggle to score during his last stint in the Association, and this is the one who hasn’t been on an NBA team all season. For now, temper your expectations. Given his lack of system familiarity, minutes will likely be scarce, especially considering Pop’s plan to play Leonard big minutes come playoff time.
off the record reason to believe this move has been in the making for a while now. The Spurs’ decision to cut Jack might not have been as abrupt as some might believe, and perhaps the thought of signing McGrady before the playoffs crept in a while back. By the way, T-Mac is playoff-eligible because he was not on an NBA roster after the March 1 deadline. Or at any time this year, for that matter.
With a banged-up Tony Parker and no Diaw or Ginobili to speak of, McGrady will have a role of leadership off the bench, something San Antonio has been lacking in recent weeks. Still, there have been peculiar moves made in the last week by a team contending for its fifth title in franchise history. Is this just an insurance policy? Do the Spurs expect McGrady to contribute right away, and if so, are they turning to a newly signed player so late in the season because the internal problems are greater than expected? Or has San Antonio really found another piece to the puzzle?
Only time will tell.
If anything, it’s just those spotlight-hogging Spurs keeping the cameras on themselves for just a little longer.