This was the Tracy McGrady of old
NEW YORK -- This was the
There wasn't much not to like about McGrady's debut with the Knicks on Saturday night. Sure, he started slow. His night unofficially began with
That feeling lasted, oh, about two and a half minutes.
Then McGrady drew a foul on a jump shot and swished two free throws.
He followed that up with bullet-pass assist to
"It really gave [me] chills down my spine," said McGrady. "I haven't felt that good in awhile."
It's possible that McGrady's time in New York won't last longer than the 28 games the Knicks have remaining in the season. It's no secret that McGrady's true value lies not in his seven All-Star appearances and 21.9 career points-per-game scoring average, but in his $22.5 million expiring contract. The Knicks are expected to be among the biggest players in this summer's free agent free-for-all and they need McGrady's money to do it.
But Saturday night McGrady took the first step towards reclaiming his NBA career that stalled when he was banished by the Rockets in December. With
"I was surprised how good he was in the pick-and-roll," said Lee. "In Houston he had more post-up big men, like
"He's a superstar," said
Any doubts that McGrady would be an asset for the Knicks this season were dispelled on Saturday. Playing without a knee brace and without any noticeable effects from last February's microfracture knee surgery (credit trainer
"I didn't have any legs at all," said McGrady. "I didn't want to be a hero."
He didn't have to be. Against an Oklahoma City team that went into the game holding opponents to a league-low 43.5 percent, the Knicks shot a blistering 48.8 percent and came within some late
"His basketball IQ is way up," said D'Antoni. "He makes the soccer pass or the hockey pass, whatever you want to call it. But he does that."
Eventually, McGrady's legs will come back. His stamina will return. Then we will see the real Tracy McGrady. Chances are, we'll see a pretty good player.