McDermott has identified St Etienne winger Gradel, 26, as one of several targets as he bids to give the club's promotion push a boost during the transfer window.
Gradel was controversially sold to French side St Etienne for less than B£2million in 2011 after scoring 25 goals in 84 appearances and helping Leeds win promotion from League One.
"I know Max Gradel, he was here a couple of years ago," McDermott told reporters. "He's been a bit unfortunate with a couple of injuries since he left here. He's a player all Leeds fans know and love.
"I remember him playing against one of my teams before and he did really well.
"I have a target of two or three players that we'll look at in January. Max Gradel would be on a list of players we like, but there's more than that. You have to have options."
McDermott added: "There are players who we think could improve us and if one of those is Max Gradel and we do something then great, if it's not and we don't, you move on, but there are players out there I think can make a difference.
"The most important thing is speaking to the board and seeing what's available."