Tracy McGrady doesn’t see himself as an old, broken-down basketball player.
He’s hoping that his free-agent deal with the Detroit Pistons will help him prove that to the NBA.
“It’s not like I’m 41 or even 35,” McGrady said after signing a one-year, $1.3 million contract Monday. “I just turned 31. No one has come down and stolen away my talent – I still have a lot in the tank.”
Knee problems have limited McGrady to just 65 games over the past two years, and he struggled to make an impact last season with New York. In 24 games with the Knicks, all starts, he averaged just 9.4 points.
“I was coming back from an injury, and I wasn’t healthy enough to play the way that I will be able to play this season,” he said. “The difference between my knee last year and this year is night and day.”
McGrady knows that years of back problems and microfracture surgery on his knee mean that he won’t be the same high-flying superstar who led the NBA in scoring in 2002-03 and 2003-04. But he still thinks he can be an impact player.
“I probably can’t dunk on guys like I did against Memo Okur here in 2003 – I hope that’s not still a bad memory for Pistons fans – but I can still put the ball in the hole,” he said. “Even last year, when I wasn’t recovered, there were two or three games where I was able to take things over for the Knicks. I’m going to be able to do that more this year.”
McGrady is also optimistic about working with Pistons conditioning guru Arnie Kander. Kander is widely credited with reviving the career of another veteran who came to Detroit after devastating knee injuries – Antonio McDyess.
“Because of what Arnie did for Dice, I know I’m going to be in great hands here,” he said. “He’s had me doing some crazy things, but he’s the best in the league, so I’m going to do whatever he says.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)