By J.A. Adande
The Houston Rockets say they don’t know when Tracy McGrady will be ready to play again, even though he says he’s ready and is simply awaiting the go-ahead for them to tell him he’s ready. Got that?
He says his microfracture surgically repaired left knee feels fine and he can do everything he wants to on the court – even dunk. I asked if he could be back before Christmas: “It’s possible,” he said. “It’s their call.”
“They” are letting Coach Rick Adelman make all the statements these days, and here’s what he had to say: “There’s no timetable for it right now. He’s working out, we’ll just see how it goes.
Tracy wants to play, but we want to be very cautious about it. We tried that last year, he went in and out of the lineup. And when he goes back in we want to make sure he’s there and he doesn’t have any setbacks. So we’ll just wait and see. I’m not going to put any timetable on it.
When the time’s right and we feel it’s going to be a positive addition, we’ll make that decision.”
McGrady understands why they’d want to be cautious and avoid a repeat of last season, when he played in the first 15 games of the season, missed the next seven, came back for 13 of the next 16, missed six more, played in seven of eight, then shut it down in February.
He also sees the chemistry the Rockets have going on, somehow scratching out a 10-8 record without him and Yao, and doesn’t want to upset it. He says he would be willing to play a secondary role at first, not expecting to come right back and play starters’ minutes.
The Rockets feel that unless they can be assured he’ll be able to go harder and play better than the guys on the court now, it’s not worth it. Nor would it be fair to McGrady to give him the ball with 12 seconds left and the score tied if he wasn't back up to speed. That also means going through the growing pains of having Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza serve as the foundation of their offense and their go-to guys, new roles for each. It means not having a fail-safe plan when their transition game gets cut off and they’re forced into the halfcourt offense. McGrady could provide that.
It’s a matter of when they will let him.