The 26-year-old left Elland Road in August 2011, but has been hampered by injuries during his spell at Ligue 1 side St Etienne.
However, despite the Ivorian being a former fans' favourite, McDermott has warned the supporters that he won't make a move for Gradel 'out of sentiment'.
"Max Gradel would be on a list of players we like, no doubt about that. But he plays for St Etienne and he's been unfortunate with a couple of operations," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"What you can't do is go on sentiment. Sometimes that's dangerous.
"You can't look back and say he was this player two years ago. Things change, people move on. When you bring someone in, you've got to make sure they're absolutely spot on for what we're trying to do now."
The Leeds boss has also revealed there are a number of alternatives in case a deal for Gradel fails to materialise.
"I've got a target of two or three players. But if you're trying to sign two or three players, you can't just have two or three players on a list. You have to have different options.
"There are players out there who we think can improve us. If one of them is Max Gradel and we can do a deal then great. If not, we look elsewhere."