Tracy McGrady(notes) and the Houston Rockets have reached a mutual decision that allows him to leave the team while the two sides try to facilitate a trade, likely ending the former All-Star guard’s tenure with the franchise, an NBA source said Monday.
McGrady's representatives spoke with team officials earlier in the day after Rockets coach Rick Adelman made it clear last week he had no plans to increase the guard’s minutes. McGrady then returned to Houston with Adelman’s blessing before the Rockets’ games in New Jersey and Cleveland.
McGrady had averaged just under eight minutes in six appearances after missing the first 23 games of the season while recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee. Sources say McGrady plans to return to Chicago by the end of the week and work out with trainer Tim Grover.
Yahoo! Sports first reported Monday morning that McGrady was expected to leave the team.
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.
McGrady told Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears last week that he's confident he won't disappoint anyone who trades for him.
“I will tell you what … if anything were to happen, whoever [trades for him] is going to get a hell of a player,” McGrady said. “A hungry one, too.”