Should the Magic dump McGrady?

Updated: March 19, 2004, 3:16 AM ET
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
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Last year around this time, Insider was making a case why Tracy McGrady should be the MVP of the NBA. In our opinion, there wasn't a more versatile or devastating basketball player in the NBA than McGrady.

Shaq was more dominant. Tim Duncan was steadier. Kevin Garnett might have been the most complete. But no one was more valuable to a team, or a franchise, than McGrady was to the Magic.

When he was on, he single handedly could carry the Magic on his sore, tired back. On most nights, he did just that.

With Grant Hill on permanent disability, the most help T-Mac could count on last season was an occasional double-double by rookie Drew Gooden, an impressive scoring spree now and again by Darrell Armstrong or maybe a hot-shooting night by Pat Garrity.

The Magic have never made it out of the first round of the playoffs with McGrady running the show, but when you looked at the rest of their team, it was pretty amazing they were in the playoffs at all.

Juwan Howard
Orlando Magic
69 16.1 7.1 1.9 .450 .790
This was supposed to be the season McGrady, with additional help from Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue, took the Magic to the next level. Howard gave the Magic a solid, veteran post presence. Gooden looked very good toward the end of last season. Gordan Giricek was emerging as another perimeter scorer, and Lue was billed as a younger, healthier version of Armstrong.

A few months later, the state of the Magic couldn't be more different. The team is an absolute disaster. Popular head coach Doc Rivers got tossed to the curb just a month into the season. Long-time GM and former executive of the year John Gabriel has been demoted. A former minor league hockey executive is now running the show. Hill has suffered yet another setback in his rehab and is, once again, out for the year.

The fans are fleeing, and, depending on the day and mood, McGrady sounds like he's ready to follow them. McGrady can opt out of his contract after the 2004-05 season, and everyone in the league (including Orlando) believes he'll bolt the first chance he gets, unless something dramatic happens to the team in the offseason.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer