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“Jerry Krause was just obsessed with me” — Tracy McGrady recalls when the Chicago Bulls were close to trading Scottie Pippen for him

Krause, who adored McGrady, was so close to pulling the trigger that he had to be stopped by Bulls president Jerry Reinsdorf, who eventually vetoed the trade.
Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and Tracy McGrady

Jerry Krause and Tracy McGrady

If there's one person Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls hated just as much as the Detroit "Bad Boy" Pistons, it was their general manager Jerry Krause. As it has been narrated in Jordan's "The Last Dance" documentary, Jordan and his teammates hated Krause's guts. One time, Krause was on the verge of trading Jordan's best teammate Scottie Pippen, and that made the Bulls' locker room mad more than anything.

Trading Scottie Pippen for a young Tracy McGrady

In fairness to Krause, the player he was after was a young Tracy McGrady, who he believed would be the bridge between the present (to maximize Jordan's last few prime years) and the future. McGrady, who declared for the draft in 1997 straight from high school, was an exciting draft prospect who averaged 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists in his senior year at Mount Zion Christian Academy.

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Krause, who adored McGrady, was so close to pulling the trigger that he had to be stopped by Bulls president Jerry Reinsdorf, who eventually vetoed the trade. Krause didn't stop chasing T-Mac in 1999 (when he was a free agent), and according to McGrady, it was because the general manager was obsessed with acquiring him.

"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," McGrady revealed on the podcast.

Reinsdorf and the Bulls didn't agree.

McGrady proved his hype and justified why Krause was so persistent in bringing him to the Bulls. However, the idea of trading Pippen (who at that time had already won 5 championships with Jordan), especially after what he had done for the franchise, was just too insane to stomach. Chicago had the chance to shape its future (by acquiring high draft picks), but they chose to go with Pippen because they knew how much he meant to the fans and city of Chicago.

"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 said.

No one will ever know if trading Pippen for McGrady and high draft picks would've turned out better for the Bulls. But retaining Pippen eventually worked out for Chicago because they won their 6th championship title. Who knows if that would've been plausible if T-Mac had teamed up with Jordan? Ultimately, Pippen delivered and helped the Bulls in their Last Dance.

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