Tracy McGrady was another one of those exciting high school prospects who directly made the jump to the NBA during the 1990s. McGrady averaged 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists in his senior year at Mount Zion Christian Academy, and while he considered joining the University of Kentucky, he opted against it and headed to the NBA.
The Raptors would end up selecting McGrady with the 9th pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, but things could have gone down very differently if Bulls GM Jerry Krause had his way. Krause was fascinated by the youngster and was so desperate to have him on the Bulls that he was even willing to trade Scottie Pippen to get him. McGrady was asked about that potential trade recently on the Alex Kennedy Podcast, and he said it was a crazy idea for the Bulls to pair him with Michael Jordan by giving away Scottie Pippen to get him.
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"That's exactly what I thought it was, I thought it was crazy. Why would they want an 18-year-old high school kid and trade him for a top 50 NBA Hall of Famer, a 5-time NBA champion at the time, Scottie Pippen? Jerry Krause was just obsessed with me, I'll just throw that out there. When I became a free agent in 1999-2000, Jerry Krause was at me trying to recruit me again..... but as an 18-year-old kid getting traded for Scottie Pippen, too much pressure. It doesn't make sense"
Bulls President Jerry Reinsdorf was the one who vetoed the trade, which would have sent Pippen to the Celtics for two high draft picks.
"I had a chance to trade Scottie Pippen to the Boston Celtics for two very high picks, I think they had picks number 3 and 6. If we had done that deal, we would have taken Tracy McGrady and Ron Mercer. But my decision came down to this, what would our fans want us to do? I concluded our fans wanted us to win a sixth championship even if it meant we were going to be bad later."
Reinsdorf did the right thing, as McGrady, aged just 18, was going to be under too much pressure after being traded for Pippen as the Bulls had just won back-to-back titles. They wouldn't have three-peated if that trade had gone down, as T-Mac just was not ready for those high-pressure situations.
Going to Toronto did not work out initially either for McGrady, but he would eventually blossom into a scoring machine in the NBA who would go on to win 2 scoring titles. He was also asked during this podcast if any of the current NBA players remind him of himself, and he bestowed that honor on Kevin Durant and Paul George.