Welp: Spurs sign Tracy (bleeping) McGrady for playoff run

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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.

But there’s 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.

  • Graham

    Riding old man Tmac for 8-10 minutes a game…… We could have done a LOT worse.

  • Graham

    Heh, just realized. Laker fans HAVE to be screaming at their TV/Computer ‘Wait, TMAC was avaliable?!!”

  • td4life

    Legler and Basquil on ESPN:
    “Going into the Playoffs the Spurs are leaking oil.
    And running out of gas.
    And can reasonably expect this from T-mac: Nothing.”

  • Jeremiah

    I’m not looking forward to being swept out of the first round :(

  • Matt

    DBB amigo here: Dunno how T-Mac’s season with Atlanta went but he was solid gold in Detroit in a point forward sort of capacity. If he performs similarly for the Spurs, then yeah, you could’ve done a LOT worse.

  • Sir Timothy

    No I think that they will lose at least won to Houston or Golden State so it will not be a sweep.

  • SAJKiinBigD

    Legs hates the Spurs. Did they reject a trade with him sometime? Seriously, I’m just hoping T-Mac goes off for thirty points at least once just for kicks! Not to be a blindered fan, but I trust Pop on this!

  • assistman

    If we see this guy get minutes in the first round and play well, I hope he earns Pop’s trust. T-Mac hasn’t been with the team, and Pop sure does like him some system play, so I would hate to see T-Mac denied any real chance to make an impact. Our bench sucks, and I think T-Mac deserves every opportunity to steal minutes from pretty much any bench player you can name.

    * PG: T-Mac played PG in DET and ATL, and I think he’s GOTTA be an upgrade over CoJo and De Colo.

    * SG: With his passing and defensive potential, if he can hit the 3 at a decent rate he might be a clear upgrade over Neal.

    * SF: With his passing, defensive potential (and length), if he can hit 3′s he should be a clear upgrade over Green as the back up 3.

    It all depends on Pop’s favoritism. But if T-Mac can play very good D and score confidently, and is given minutes and having a good game on a given night, I would (really, really strongly) hope that Pop let’s him finish out such a game with the starters. This next point probably speaks to why Jax got canned, but it’s possible that T-Mac can be an upgrade over Green and should steal significant minutes from him some nights. And not only that, when Parker gets trapped by defenses, T-Mac could be a great second playmaker at 6’8″. He might replace not only Jax, but some of what Manu brought and what we need most: defense, play-making, confident scoring.

    I’m not trying to drink kool aid, I present these points only as reasonable, but far from the expected, possibilities. Still, Pop’s stubborness may mean we’ll never get to know what could’ve been. I really hope Pop mixes it up, recognizing (1) that this bench is not very special, and (2) that honestly, Timmy is our ONLY reliable player. If this turns into another meaningless Glen Robinson, Jr signing, I think we’re screwed.

  • ChillFAN

    No offense to Jack, but sometimes you just gotta go with someone younger. LOL

  • junierizzle

    Anything is better than a pump-faking Bonner. But something tells me this is a “just-in-case” signing.

  • junierizzle

    They’ll be playing the Lakers, my good man.

  • http://twitter.com/its4real E. Crabtree

    “If anything, it’s just those spotlight-hogging Spurs keeping the cameras on themselves for just a little longer.” Can you say hater. WOW. What a sad, and completely bullshit attempt to know anything about the Spurs organization, speculation this, down right insulting that. Get a new day job, or at least be realistic.

  • junierizzle

    Yeah, way to take the air out of it.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We always tend to sign old players I mean old players for this sort of thing. McDyess was decent though. Who knows maybe TMac will switch on the reserve tank valve and surprise everyone. This is truly his last hurrah.

  • Austin

    Have you legitimately never read anything from 48MOH? He is completely kidding. How can someone be so dense?

  • Mamba Juice

    I can only imagine he will be part of the rotation in the first round… seeing as how Boris and Manu will be out. I’m excited to see his audition to get back in the league, and perhaps resign with the Spurs next year. I was surprised to find out he’s only 33! He didn’t go downhill, he fell off a cliff!

  • E. Crabtree is a stupid head

    Worst. Misread. Ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/themexiranian Afshan Miri

    you sir, are a class act. i would never have owned up to this

  • Tim in Surrey

    :)

  • Tim in Surrey

    That depends upon the Rockets. If they beat LA, they get the 7 seed (and if Utah wins, LA is out of the playoffs).

  • Joey

    Patty Mills, dont forget him he should be back up point guard, next season if T-Mac is there, Parker Redick Leonard Smith Duncan 2nd unit Mills T Mac Bonner Blair Baynes would be amazing, Neal De Colo Joseph all get bench minutes I think Joseph should go back to D League too young, De Colo and Mills should play depending on opposition and Neal can be reserve shooting guard.

  • Bry

    What are the injury timetables? Have they reported dates for all of the respective injured players? I’m really curious. I’m guessing the Minnesota game will also be a skeleton crew, considering it’s a meaningless game for both teams.

  • GFoyle33

    I actually was going to give Matthew kudos for the ‘spotlight-hogging Spurs’ phrase – it made me laugh out loud.

  • junierizzle

    If Utah wins they would still need the Lakers to lose. The Lakers are not losing to the Rockets. Not only do they want to avoid OKC but they believe they can beat the Spurs even without Kobe.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    That wasn’t the original poster, it was someone making up the guys name. fwiw

  • idahospur

    Optimistically, T-Mac wants a chance at a title contender, or at least see the second round of the playoffs. He also can help as the PG, which is desperately needed seeing the way teams like the Thunder double-team Parker and prevent the offense from getting started. If T-Mac gets hot, teams will be afraid, leaving others to get open.

    Feel bad for Jack. Whatever the reason his departure was seen as necessary I hope he gets another chance.
    Got to give some credit to Pop. Spurs are struggling through this month and a rigorous playoff schedule is not recommended by the Spurs’ team medical staff. So he brings in someone new rather than rely on a long list of injuries.
    Spurs have to do something about Manu for next year. I really don’t want to say let him go but something has to be done to keep him healthy so he can contribute to some degree.

  • Tyler

    Wow. Ever heard of a concept called satire? What about sarcasm? Because that quote is exactly those things.

  • ThatBigGuy

    ‘Tis the ultimate low risk, high reward signing. All it takes is one 20 point outburst that helps decide a game and the rest is gravy.

  • H

    Believing that Jack had a meltdown that represented the last straw and thus the Spurs didn’t dump him for TMac, then its a brilliant move. The worst that could happen is he could learn to towel wave from Patty at the end of the bench. Upside is a body to put on Harden, Butler, Durant. Not going to shut any of those guys down but can’t hurt.

    And someone mentioned this but keeping him out of the Laker’s hands is a good move as well. We MIGHT just see them in round one and T-Mac is probably better than whatever garbage they have to throw out there. If he hits a big three here or there or scores 12 points on night, all the better but I don’t expect to see much of him to be honest.

    More than anything, this is Manu insurance. Neal has battled injuries all season, Danny has been known to disappear in the playoffs and hammy injuries can be difficult to overcome/apt to re injure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.vega.904 Kevin Vega

    All i can say is there is more upside signing TMAC than downside. Smart move by the rusty old Spurs

  • http://www.facebook.com/themexiranian Afshan Miri

    second. worst. misread. ever.