Originally created 06/18/04

McGrady to meet with Magic owner



ORLANDO, Fla. -- Magic owner Rich DeVos is preparing to make his best pitch to get Tracy McGrady to stay in Orlando.

DeVos, the salesman who built the Amway empire, wants the NBA's leading scorer to know that the team is committed to becoming a winner again - and that he'd like McGrady to be part of that future.

McGrady, whose seven-year, $93 million contract runs through the 2006-07 season, can opt out of the deal after next season.

Magic officials want to know if McGrady wants to be part of rebuilding a team that finished with a league-worst 21-61 record last season. If he doesn't, they'll look to trade him.

DeVos and McGrady plan to meet in the upcoming days.

Repeated attempts to reach McGrady and agent Arn Tellem for comment were unsuccessful

Magic senior vice president Pat Williams believes DeVos can present a strong case for a quick rebound in Orlando.

"He once sold an anvil to a drowning man," Williams joked about DeVos. "He once convinced his wife she looked fat in a fur coat."

DeVos and the Magic have at least a couple of things going for them as they start to rebuild. Orlando owns the No. 1 pick in next week's draft and the oft-injured Grant Hill is healthy and hoping to take another crack at a comeback.

If that's not enough to persuade McGrady to stay, the Magic will look to restock their roster by moving him. The last time a superstar left Orlando as a free agent, Shaquille O'Neal ended up in Los Angeles and the Magic were left empty-handed.

"That was eight years ago and we're still trying to get our feet underneath us," Williams said. "At least with the McGrady thing, we're wiser, we have greater insights into the whole process and we're better equipped to deal with it."

If McGrady is traded, he would be the fourth defending scoring champion in NBA history to be dealt away, and the first since the Buffalo Braves sent Bob McAdoo to the New York Knicks in 1976.

McGrady signed with his hometown team in 2000, thinking he and Hill could turn the Magic into championship contenders.

But Hill's injured left ankle has limited him to 37 games in four seasons, leaving McGrady with the task of carrying the team.

Despite his league-leading 28 points per game, McGrady couldn't make the Magic winners last season.

While in Orlando, DeVos also will meet with the two players being talked about as the likely first pick in the draft - Connecticut center Emeka Okafor and high school power forward Dwight Howard.

Okafor will work out Friday, and Howard on Saturday.

After Orlando won the top pick in last month's draft lottery, McGrady dampened the organization's excitement by declaring it should be dealt for a veteran.

Magic general manager John Weisbrod said the pick is drawing interest around the league.

"There are a lot of people out there that think both Howard and Okafor could conceivably end up being special players," Weisbrod said. "And I think the draft was looking a little bit deeper than it is now, with some of the Europeans and some other people pulling out. It's moving the priority in the draft selections more and more forward."