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[Houston Chronicle] McGrady feeling at home with Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rob English, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. Rob English

    Rob English Member

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    McGrady feeling at home with Rockets
    Minor details all that remain in completion of contract extension

    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    In another life, on another team, in another city, mere chat from Tracy McGrady about a contract extension might have sounded like an ultimatum. It would have been taken as a demand, a challenge to management.


    But as he spoke happily Sunday about his first impressions of Houston and of Rockets training camp, McGrady hinted that the extension in the works is evidence of his satisfaction. He sounded as interested in how long the deal will keep him in Houston as the riches it will bring him.

    Much of the difference might be the absence of any contentiousness in the negotiations. McGrady, 25, wants a contract extension, and the Rockets want to sign him to a longer deal.

    The Rockets can add only three years to the three he has remaining on the contract he brought with him from Orlando. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said Friday it has been clear from the start of negotiations in August that he would offer all that NBA rules allow.

    "Money and years are set by the league," Alexander said. "He obviously gets the max. That's what we're going to give him."

    The actual value of "max" contracts can change dramatically based on league revenue, which determines the salary cap. And even maximum-contract talks often bog down over how payments are structured. But a source with knowledge of the negotiations said Sunday that talks have been reduced to the language of the deal and routine stipulations in every player's guaranteed contract.

    "There are zero money issues. None," the source said. "That's payment and also payment schedule. It's just about language and provisions of the contract."

    McGrady was traded in large part because he said he would not agree to an extension with the Magic and would opt out of his deal after this season.

    "It's definitely important," McGrady, a 6-8 guard, said of the contract talks with the Rockets. "This is where I want to be. At the same time, I'm not going to worry about that, because I have other things to focus on, and that's learning this new system and getting on the same page as everyone else.

    "I'm going to leave that in the hands of my agent (Arn Tellem) and the owner here. That's their job, and that's why I pay my agent. Whatever it is, I'll definitely be satisfied with it. But I've made a lot of money in this league. I'm not worried about whatever it is. I know it's going to be a lot. It will be a blessed day in the NBA."

    Though contract discussions can become at least a distraction, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said he was not concerned with how talks on extending McGrady's contract have gone. Nor did Van Gundy sound as if it would be an issue for him even if negotiations were not going so smoothly.

    "I haven't thought about it one second," Van Gundy said. "That's between his representation and Les and Carroll (Dawson, Rockets general manager). I hope it works for him and for our team. Business is business. But when we get on the floor, it's about the team."

    Though it's still so early in training camp that McGrady has not gone through his first team scrimmage with the Rockets, he has seen enough to be effusive about the experience. As he got his first taste of a Rockets camp, McGrady described his first days on the Toyota Center practice court as "great, great, great, great."

    "There's a lot of learning, a lot of things I didn't know," McGrady said. "Coach's whole strategy, his whole teaching technique, is all new to me, but it's all really good. I'm learning a lot. He's real precise, which is good. It's going to make me better."

    Asked what is different about Van Gundy's camp, McGrady said: "Oh man, the little things. Things I didn't even know about, things about playing defense on a guy."

    McGrady and Ryan Bowen, who signed last week, were the only new players who weren't in Houston prior to camp for volunteer workouts with Rockets coaches. But Van Gundy said McGrady has had no trouble picking up the team's schemes.

    "He's doing fine," Van Gundy said. "He's a smart guy. He picks up things. I had talked to him a lot since he had been traded. You can tell when a guy has a high basketball IQ.

    "It seems he has a good handle on who he is, what his strengths are, how he can affect winning. He's an easy guy to like — that's for sure."

    Living in an apartment during training camp, McGrady is scheduled to close this month on the house formerly owned by ex-Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds.

    "Being around, walking around town, there's really nice people down here," McGrady said. "Everybody is friendly. I don't know if it's because I'm the new guy in town, but I hope that continues."

    If it does, McGrady figures to have several years to get used to it. And just days into his move to Houston, he has seen enough to know he wants to stick around.

    jonathan.feigen@chron.com



    ROCKETS SUMMARY

    Rockets center Yao Ming might have thought all the conditioning work he put in would make training camp easier for him. He and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy have said Yao is in much better shape than when he reported for last season's camp.

    "I just feel good," Yao said. "I'm not getting tired as quickly. I can go (up and down the court) many times without stopping."

    But Yao said the better conditioning has not made workouts easier.

    "I don't think so," he said. "As my conditioning has gone up, Jeff's level has gone up. I believe that. He never stops. He never lets us stop."

    Up to speed
    Though the Rockets have eight new players, coach Jeff Van Gundy has not altered his approach to training camp to make sure they keep up.

    "Some guys who spent a lot of time here in September, it's probably a little bit easier for because they've been through it," Van Gundy said. "Other guys who haven't spent as much time here, it's probably a little more challenging right now.

    "I don't worry about that. We just keep moving on. If you're behind at the start, you'll probably be behind at the end, too. We'll play somebody else then. That isn't new this year. That's just how I feel."

    Van Gundy said he did not expect a rebuilt team's learning curve to be a problem.

    "We have a pretty intelligent group, particularly on the perimeter, and that's where a lot of your mistakes would be if you don't have smart players," Van Gundy said.

    JONATHAN FEIGEN
     
  2. Rob English

    Rob English Member

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  3. timm

    timm Member

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    "We have a pretty intelligent group, particularly on the perimeter, and that's where a lot of your mistakes would be if you don't have smart players," Van Gundy said.

    I find this very interesting........particualrly on the perimeter............if you dont have smart palyers.

    Jeff, you do sound with the palyers you have on the perimeter (TMac, Ward).........assuming he is happy with Ming, would that mean we are shopping for a smart PF?????
     
  4. Tyler Durden

    Tyler Durden Contributing Member

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    What he's saying is if you have intellegent players, there will be less mistakes ie TOs.

    Then he says the most important part of limiting mistakes ie TOs is having smart perimeter players.

    Well since mistakes ie TOs were one of(The) our biggest problems last year, we can deduce that our perimeter players were not very smart.

    Theretofore, Steve and Cat are dumb.

    But then again we already knew that without all the deduction.



    On a side note, is it me or does JVG seem unusually optumistic sounding this year? Much moreso than last year at least. What does this imply? That JVG is a straightforward, tell-it-as-it-is kinda guy, with a mild(to extreme) pessimistic conotation and that even he thinks our team rocks?
     
  5. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

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    Exactly! Except for the part about Cat being dumb. He was NOT a high-TO guard. Plus, his FG% improved and so did his defense. He's a fan favorite on this BBS. Not many wanted to see him leave. Including me.

    But, Francis on the other hand (as a door knob!) :D

    The part about "perimeter players needing to be smart" is very important to passing and keeping the offense running smoothly.
     
  6. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    based on some of mo's quotes last year and now t-mac i assume coming into camp for jvg is like learning how to play defense all over again. this is why his teams are always at the top of the league in defense no matter who he has playing for him.
     
  7. Tyler Durden

    Tyler Durden Contributing Member

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    Trust me, I know what kind of player Cat was and is. And I have been around this BBS before. Cat, because of JVG, became a very good defender last year. He is not a very good passer, and he still at times revert to the shot happy pre-03/04 version. Infact he isn't that different from Francis. He has a much better spotup shot, but BB IQ-wise they are similar. Its just that Francis maned the PG duties so his shortcomings were exposed more. With that said Cat was an absolute bargain for what he was getting paid.

    BTW I expect Steve and Cat to completely revert to their pre-Yao form in Orlando this season. That means higher stats, but i would feel sorry for Dwight Howard. I have a feeling Orlando fans will start sounding like the Rocket fans of 02/03: "Pass Dwight the damn ball!" But hey thats neither here nor there.
     
  8. Relativist

    Relativist Contributing Member

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    JVG teaching his players how to play defense:

    JVG: "Repeat after me, 'I am a motha****motha****'"

    Players: "I am a..."
     
  9. wireonfire

    wireonfire Contributing Member

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    Agreed.
     
  10. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

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    Yes, I agree. JVG helped him. But Cat learned. That's not dumb. Also, his jump-shot was very natural for SG. It's just that his selection/errors seemed magnified as long as Francis and he were playing together. Imagine Cat on this team (bench). His game would improve just by guys like Lue and Ward setting him up. Also, one aspect of playing "smart bball" is to know your limits. Cat was a SG. Nothing more, nothing less. He knew it and didn't go beyond it. Could he become a better passer/w training. Sure. But it wasn't necessary.

    Francis on the other had has always been a PG. Yet, he was unable to learn how to do "PG duties" regardless of two coaches and five years of NBA experience. That's a dumb player! So, saying that Francis shortcomings were "exposed by PG duties" is implying that Francis would have been a lower TO player if he was relegated to SG duties. Heh...well, that's what he tried to be. Ever notice how SF would make turnovers trying to do SG things (driving into double teams) or going into one of his dribble-happy spells? That has nothing to do with "PG duties." He'd become a high-TO SG, insted of a high-TO PG. Heh... :D Again, he was just dumb. Cat at least showed progress and knew his limits. That should be worth something. The sad part is that Cat will always be limiting himself as long as he plays with Francis. Too bad. He would be the consummate sixth-man or even starter on the right team.

    All I'm saying is that I think your opinion of Cat would change if he was still on this team (away from SF).

    I agree w/you on the Orlando thing. It will be an illusion at first. Orlando fans will like what they see at first. Until the see more of the same....Turnover City. Howard will be underutilized for sure.
     
    #10 DavidS, Oct 4, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2004
  11. user

    user Member

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    Steve can win 43+ games for Orlando. That is enough in the East to make fans happy.
     
  12. ragingFire

    ragingFire Contributing Member

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    I agree that Cat improved toward the end but some of the silly mistakes were still there.

    Remember the time he fouled from 35 ft out and put the other team, Denver I think, at the line and then mouthed off to JVG that he thought we weren't in the penalty? What about the time he fouled a 3 point shooter who had very slim chance of making the shot and gave the game away... the list goes on ....

    Everyone makes mistakes, some a little easier to swallow than others. To me, 4, 5 yr pro shouldn't make those.
     
  13. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    oh god......like no other players ever made mistakes. :rolleyes:

    Cat played the game to the utmost of his ability...fi you are looking for perfection....you are watching the wrong sport....I see guys that are better than Cat make stupid mistakes after 10 years of playing...

    admit it...you are still pissed about the "supposed" freeze out of Yao that was widely(and inaccurately) reported in the first year..

    VG said it himself.....the notion that the guards wouldnt pass to Yao was waaay overblown
     
  14. solid

    solid Contributing Member

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    Dumb defined our guard play last year, if fact for the last five years. I always thought that Mobley's learning curve was a little better that Francis's learning curve. However, I could never really determine if Francis was really not very bright or just resistant. Last year he seemed like he was trying to make adjustments, but he just couldn't do it. But this is all "old news." JVG's comment was interesting and much more cadid than some of the "Francis remarks" he made last season which I thought were largely disingenous.
     
    #14 solid, Oct 4, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2004
  15. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    My goodness. This is an article about T-Mac and all anyone can talk about is Francis and Mobley.
     
  16. ragingFire

    ragingFire Contributing Member

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    You never failed to bring Yao into every post as an excuse for any and all arguments. Cat playing stupid has nothing to do with Yao, how do like me to spell that for you?
    The supposed freeze out? Right, there was none of that. What does it matter what I thought .... Bottom line is Steve and Cat are in Orlando now.

    Speaking of stupidity, you like to quote VG when he said something you like ... and always dismiss what you don't ...

    "We have a pretty intelligent group, particularly on the perimeter, and that's where a lot of your mistakes would be if you don't have smart players," Van Gundy said.

    Spin that!
     
  17. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Chron: Looks Like Rain Today


    BBS: "Do you know that Francis is so stupid he probably will drive with his convertible top down."
     
  18. m_cable

    m_cable Contributing Member

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    It's unbelievable. When I read that quote from JVG about "intelligent group, particularly on the perimeter", I just knew it would be traced back to Cat and Steve. Let's look forward people, and not trudge up the past.
     
  19. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

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    Hee hee....:D

    Hey, you gotta admit. It was funny!
     
  20. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Thank you. They're gone, get over it. Can we move on now? Sheesh!!



    I don't know about you guys, but I don't think it's even hit me yet that Tracy freakin' McGrady is on OUR team. I don't think it will truly hit me until I see it for myself.

    I have that same kind of feeling about this team that I had after learning about the Drexler trade. Except this time, T-Mac is only 25 years old! I have a feeling that Rocket games are about to become A LOT more fun to watch....not that they weren't before.
     

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