Originally created 04/15/04

Magic GM wants McGrady to make a decision - soon



ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic are willing to trade Tracy McGrady in the offseason unless the NBA's scoring champion tells them he wants to stick around after next year.

McGrady, who signed a seven-year, $93 million contract that runs through 2006-07 season, can opt out of the deal following the 2004-05 season.

Magic general manager John Weisbrod said Wednesday he wants McGrady to stay, but wants his star to make a decision by July 1 because "I have no intention of starting next season with an 'I don't know."'

Weisbrod, who took over as Orlando's GM last month, said if he knows McGrady won't be back after next season, trading him would be the best move for the team.

"I don't want that misinterpreted that I'm looking for a way to trade him or we're predisposed to trading him," Weisbrod said. "We're obviously not. We'd like to build the thing around him."

McGrady's deal gives him an opt-out clause after the fifth year of his deal, an attractive alternative if there's no turnaround in the NBA's worst team.

The Magic were 20-61 entering Wednesday night's season finale against Philadelphia.

"All things being equal, I think he'd like to stay in Orlando," Weisbrod said. "But there are a lot of factors that don't make all things equal - we're a bad team right now without any (salary) cap room."

Weisbrod wants a decision by July 1 for a reason - it's the first day teams can begin negotiating with free agents. Past that point, Weisbrod said, the situation would become a distraction.

McGrady is on the injured list and didn't attend Wednesday's shootaround. His agent was traveling and was unavailable for comment.

McGrady's contract may make trading him difficult. He's due to make almost $14.5 million next season, and teams would be leery of acquiring McGrady unless they knew he would re-sign.

"He's still in a position, if he wanted to get traded, to dictate where he got traded to," Weisbrod said.

McGrady averaged 28 points this season, leading the league for the second straight year. Last season, his 32.1 points made him the youngest player to average at least 30 per game since the NBA/ABA merger of 1976.

But the season soured long before knee tendinitis shut him down with a month to go. His shooting percentage of .417 is a career worst, as are his 2.67 turnovers per game.

Also, he emotionally faltered under the burden of being named team captain, especially when a franchise-record 19-game losing streak early in the year doomed the Magic's playoff hopes.