A source with knowledge of Monday's talks said the Rockets would
have allowed McGrady to stay, but the guard thought he'd be too much of
a distraction to the team.
McGrady is making a league-high $23 million in the final year of his
contract, and won't be easy to trade given his large salary and how
little teams have seen him play this season. Rival teams say the
Rockets are willing to take back long-term money for the right trade
with McGrady, but no deal appears imminent. Talks could pick up closer
to the trade deadline in February when cost-cutting franchises may be
more attracted to McGrady's expiring contract.
So the Rockets are willing to take back long term salary, they reportedly rejected a deal for Gilbert Arenas for McGrady [who could blame them there], but how about this:
Kirk Hinrich + John Salmons + Brad Miller for Tracy McGrady + Brian Cook + Kyle Lowry
The Rockets get three guys who can all play, they only have Hinrich's long term salary there for sure, and possibly Salmons depending on his opt out. If they want to improve the team, these three could certainly help them out considerably, and are less likely to become a distraction than McGrady.
The trade also should save the Rockets about 1.3 million this season, as they're over the tax and would save 800k on this trade in luxury tax + whatever the pro-rated salary amount is on the 800k in actual in salary difference depending on the time of the trade.
For the Bulls, they lose some depth, and they desperately have to hope McGrady is ready to play, but they gain a whole crapload of future flexibility by ensuring themselves a ton of cap room this summer with Luol Deng becoming the lone long term big money contract left on the team.
If they aren't interested in Hinrich, then there's also the popular Salmons + Miller + Jerome James for McGrady + Lowry or Hayes.
This trade doesn't save them much immediate money at all, but it doesn't have them taking on Kirk's final two years either. For the Bulls it still gets us out of the possibility of Salmons opting out, and they can hope McGrady can play well while dedicated.
This trade is much more concerning for me though. You're only getting a possible benefit [Salmons can't opt in on you anymore], but you are getting a primadonna instead of a guy who could be a role player, and you're losing depth in your front court by losing Miller [regardless of how bad he's been at times, he's at least a decent filler body].
On the court, you're probably not any better, you could become considerably worse if McGrady isn't healthy, and you have lost your depth. That could be a big price to pay just to ensure that Salmons doesn't opt in. I'd still probably do this trade, but I wouldn't be so excited about it.