Bulls McGrady's top choice, but feeling may not be mutual

Chicago Tribune

Tracy McGrady left the Berto Center on Monday without a contract offer after working out for roughly an hour and then meeting with Bulls management after lunch.

This time, it wasn't McGrady's choice.

Ten summers after flirting with the Bulls before joining his home state Magic in free agency, the seven-time All-Star told reporters joining Derrick Rose and Co. represents his top choice as he tries to resuscitate a career derailed by microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009.
According to two people who witnessed the workout, McGrady shot the ball well but didn't move with much fluidity or exhibit superior conditioning. Andy Greer, who served as an assistant with the Rockets along with coach Tom Thibodeau when McGrady played there, led the workout.

Those two coaches' familiarity with McGrady, as well as Rose's public lobbying for him that stems, in part, from their shared agency, represent McGrady's best chance at landing a Bulls offer. Yet no definitive decision has been made, and one league source who spoke with Bulls management said he wouldn't be surprised if the Bulls passed.

Another source said management has considered a non-guaranteed deal near the veteran's minimum of $1.35 million if an offer is made, but that an offer is unlikely.

"I'd fit in well," an amiable McGrady told reporters. "I'd bring what I know about the game and my athleticism and versatility. Knowing my smarts for the game, leadership, anything I can add to help these guys over the edge.

"Without me, without (Carlos) Boozer, they were a .500 club. With the guys that they added, and if you add me, I think we'll be 30 points better."

McGrady played just 30 games last season and, barring an injury to a rotation player, almost certainly would be reduced to a spot bench role should he land the 12th contract on the Bulls' roster.

"I won't have a problem, but that's not what I'm really shooting for," McGrady said. "Yeah, if I was the player that I was in a Knicks uniform, I would have no problem coming off the bench. But I have worked extremely hard and I'm far from being that player. Trust me.

"It's up to me in training camp to prove I'm a starter."

McGrady downplayed a question about his reputation as a selfish player who affects locker room chemistry.

"Thibodeau was with me for three years," he said. "If I was a bad locker room guy, I don't think he'd have any interest in bringing me here. People around the league know me and know I'm not that type of person."

Physically, McGrady said he feels far better than during his Knicks stint last season.

"I've had my time where I was a really big name and top player in the NBA with endorsement deals," McGrady said. "But eventually none of that stuff really matters. What matters now is contributing to this club if I'm a part of it and trying to win a championship."

By K.C. Johnson, Tribune Reporter