This weekend provided two new reminders of how much things have changed around the Knicks this season. The first is that Saturday night's road loss to a very good Rockets team was greeted with disappointment about a missed opportunity instead of a shrug of the shoulders and the second is that the Knicks have passed on a chance to make a deal for disgruntled Rockets guard Tracy McGrady.
There's no doubt that a healthy McGrady would help the Knicks over the rest of the season. They're thin in the backcourt, even with Nate Robinson's return to the rotation, and McGrady would help limit the chance that Chris Duhon enters the final quarter of the season with his tank almost empty. What's more, McGrady would be an intriguing choice as a player to bring back in 2010 as part of the supporting cast for whoever winds up playing the marquee role.
Sounds good, until you get to the part where the Rockets ask for Jordan Hill or Toney Douglas without taking back any contracts that run before the end of the season. Whatever the two rookies might do in the future wouldn't be missed if the Knicks could unload Eddy Curry in the process. Even the departure of Jared Jeffries, who has been a key part of the improved play this season despite being one of the worst offensive players in memory, could be stomached if it meant the team would be better off next season.
Without that, though, there's no reason for the Knicks to roll the dice on McGrady. The current group is clearly in the muddled midsection of the NBA along with the 20-odd other teams that aren't the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs or Nets and McGrady isn't going to lift them out of that group. Heck, there's a possibility that McGrady would make the team worse by disrupting the current rotation.
Making a trade for the sake of making a trade and adding a big name used to be the operating principle at Madison Square Garden. Simply getting McGrady fulfills neither long nor short-term goals so the Knicks passed, which is why the whole thing serves as a reminder of how much things have changed around the Knicks this season.