August 11, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Vincent Goodwill

Tracy McGrady not a bad investment for Pistons

Tracy McGrady's career averages in 13 NBA seasons are 21.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists. (Barry Gossage / Getty Images)

The Pistons' addition of Tracy McGrady has added little intrigue to an otherwise dull offseason to date.

McGrady, a seven-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion, hasn't looked like himself in recent years, recovering from microfracture surgery to his left knee. McGrady played 30 games for Houston and New York, averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 assists. While not expecting a miracle, the Pistons hope the 31-year-old plays somewhere closer to form than his abbreviated 2009-10 showing.

Either way, it's a low-risk, high-reward move for both sides.

When healthy, McGrady can be a dynamic offensive player. From 2001-07, he never averaged less than 24.4 points and he's underrated as a playmaker. Always a willing passer, he averaged more than five assists the past 10 years and can facilitate an offense.


The Pistons agreed to terms with McGrady after making sure he'd accept a possible backup role. He's been a starter for almost his entire career.

The last thing the Pistons want is a repeat of the Allen Iverson experience, which is why the organization did its due diligence with McGrady. He had occasional bouts of unhappiness with the Magic and with the Rockets, but the Pistons believe he's matured since then.

Additionally, the fact McGrady was willing to play for less (he'll make $1.3 million after making $23 million last season) and not having an issue coming off the bench doesn't make this a risky proposition.

Most expected the Pistons to make a trade this summer, amidst the free agency craziness. Surprisingly, things have been quiet in Auburn Hills, except for re-signing Ben Wallace and Will Bynum.

As it stands, the Pistons are loaded at shooting guard (Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon) and small forward (Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko), but short on quality big men.

While this doesn't signal that a trade involving Hamilton or Prince is imminent, it leaves Dumars comfortable enough with his depth that he can make a move to bolster his frontcourt before training camp begins in late September. McGrady's capable of playing both swing positions, along with the occasional point guard.

Health scares

The Pistons wouldn't have acquired McGrady without the approval of strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander

Kander has dealt with the likes of Antonio McDyess, who joined the Pistons after the 2004 season and Chris Webber, when he arrived in Detroit in the middle of the 2007 season. After playing a total of just 52 games in 2003 and 2004, McDyess had five healthy seasons in Detroit. Both had the dreaded microfracture surgery, which has ended the careers of Penny Hardaway, former Piston Allan Houston and Jamal Mashburn, just to name a few. Former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman also had the surgery in 2003.

Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire is the only player to fully recover from the surgery, but other players, like Jason Kidd, have found a way to be effective afterwards. That's the challenge McGrady faces.

"Last year that knee was not right," an Eastern Conference scout said of McGrady. "If he's fully recovered, he could be decent, but the surgery takes years to get back. Look at (Denver's) Kenyon Martin, he still isn't right."

McGrady has been training at Tim Grover's gym in Chicago. Grover is Michael Jordan's former trainer, and Dwyane Wade credits his resurgence from various injuries to Grover as well.

McGrady played at 223 pounds last season, when he usually plays around 210.

How much McGrady can give the Pistons, no one knows at this point. The Pistons, though, don't see a downside to adding a motivated, talented player to their lot.

Painful memories

Some of the injuries that have plagued Tracy McGrady's NBA career:

2005-06: Played 47 games, missing time, mostly due to a lower-back injury.

2006-07: Played 71 games, missing time with lower-back injury.

2007-08: Missed 16 games because of a strained tendon in left knee.

2008-09: After playing in 35 games, underwent season-ending microfracture surgery on left knee in February.

2009-10: Missed first 23 games with recovery from knee surgery. After limited playing time in six games, didn't play again until February trade to New York. Played in 24 games for the Knicks, missing time due to rest.

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