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NBA PM: Tracy McGrady at Peace With Retirement

Tracy McGrady discusses his retirement from the NBA at adidas Nations … Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver talks about Eric Bledsoe’s free agency

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McGrady At Peace With Retirement

Tracy McGrady, at 35 years old, is at peace with his decision to retire from professional basketball.

While he says that he could still play in the NBA or an overseas league, and admits that he sometimes wants to get back on the court, he’s no longer interested in putting in the necessary work to continue his career.

“I am [at peace with my decision to retire],” McGrady told Basketball Insiders. “I am. At times I get that itch, the urge to go back and play. I still can, I’m young enough to still play. My body feels good; I haven’t played in a couple of years so my body feels great. It’s just the mental part of [not] having that drive to get back in that type of shape and to put that type of time and focus into it.”

He loves that he’s able to spend more time with his family. McGrady says he completely understands why someone like Ray Allen is unsure about continuing his career, as the veteran sharpshooter weighs retirement to spend more time with his family versus playing the 2014-15 season with a contender.

“[Family] weighs a lot,” McGrady said. “Your kids get older, they get involved in more activities, and you want to be there to see them, whether its sports or school activities. You want to be there for those moments. You don’t want to miss out. You don’t get those back. I understand [what Ray Allen is going through]. … My kids help me reflect back [on my career]. My boys like to watch old video tapes of me. I [reflect] all the time.”

McGrady played 15 seasons in the NBA, making seven All-Star teams and winning two scoring titles. He recently attended adidas Nations, where he spoke to the high school and college players participating in the event. He even laced up his adidas to play a game against the college counselors. He told the up-and-coming players to take advantage of the opportunity they have and enjoy their journey.

“It’s basically just seizing every moment, every opportunity that you get,” McGrady said of the message he delivered at adidas Nations. “You’re the best that’s out there, act like it. Conduct yourself in a manner that you have good character and people respect not only your game but respect you as a person and how you carry yourself away from the basketball court. Just soak all of this in, it goes by quick. I can remember being here on this stage and now I’m sitting here watching these guys and I’m done playing basketball, my career is over. I can’t believe it, at 34, 35 years old, when I still could be playing. Just soaking up every opportunity that you get and really understand why you’re here. … It’s good to come back, see how it’s grown since my days. This is my first time being back since my time playing here back in high school. Tremendous talent, tremendous event and it’s good to be back.”

Another message that McGrady passed along? “Bust your ass on the basketball court.”

“Looking back on my career, to be one of the best players in the world, to lead the best players in the world in scoring two times out of the league, I worked extremely hard,” McGrady said. “You don’t get there just by having God given talent, you have to work your ass off. … It’s cliché but you just put the time in and put the work in. Always believe in you; always believe in your self-confidence and what you can do. Do the necessary things, take care of your body, get a good trainer and whatever you put in your body, make sure it’s good things. With that being said, just bust your ass on the basketball court and when you’re not playing games, away from the game, put that extra work in and perfect your craft.”

He recently retired from another sport, after a short stint playing baseball with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. So what’s next for McGrady?

“Relax,” McGrady said. “That’s it. Just enjoy life.”

Sarver Discusses Bledsoe’s Free Agency

Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe is arguably the most talented free agent remaining on the market, but he isn’t close to inking a new deal because he and the Suns are reportedly far apart in contract talks.

Bledsoe is a restricted free agent and has the option to sign an offer sheet with another team, but there aren’t many teams with significant cap space left so the Suns seem to have all of the leverage in these negotiations.

The team has reportedly offered Bledsoe a four-year deal worth $48 million, but Bledsoe’s camp is reportedly looking for a near-max deal. If Bledsoe doesn’t want to accept a lesser multi-year deal, he can sign for the one-year qualifying offer worth $3.7 million and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, this would be risky, since it would be delaying his lucrative payday and there’s always the chance that he could get injured.

Suns owner Robert Sarver called into Arizona Sports 98.7 FM today to discuss Bledsoe’s free agency.

“We think it’s a fair offer. I think you could argue, you know, I mean some would say it’s maybe a little high, some would say it’s low,” Sarver told the Burns & Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “What’s fair is important to us, and also important to him — him and his agent. It’s not necessarily us to determine what he thinks is fair; it’s him to determine that. … We think we gave him a fair offer, and [we would] be more than happy to sit down with him and continue to negotiate it. We’re happy to do that.”

Sarver doesn’t think these negotiations will strain the relationship between Bledsoe and the Suns.

“We’re a professional organization, and he’s a professional player,” Sarver said. “And he’s a high-character guy. And his agent [Rich Paul], whose main client [is] LeBron [James], is the utmost competitor and professional.

“As an organization, we do our 100 percent best to get behind the player and support him as best as possible. And what professional players do, regardless of how their contract works out, when it’s time to play, they play as hard as they can – for themselves, their teammates and for the organization. So what takes place before a contract is signed usually doesn’t have a lot of bearing on what takes place after a contract is signed — when you have a high-character athlete and a high-quality organization. … I think Eric’s a great guy. And he’ll be happy here when he gets here, whether that’s for one year or for four years or five years. I think his agent’s trying to do the best job he can, too. And I have a pretty good relationship with his agent. It’s just part of the process. I wish it would have been resolved earlier, but it is what it is.”

Sarver understands why a player like Bledsoe would try to hold out for as much money as possible, since professional athletes have such a limited time to maximize their earning potential.

“One thing fans have got to remember is players, their careers are very short,” Sarver said. “And at any given moment, they could be a lot shorter. You don’t know. And so, they’re trying to maximize what they can make. They’re not like movie stars where they can go cut a box office hit when they’re 45 or 55 years old like John [Gambadoro] is. They want to maximize what they can make. And that’s OK.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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