"While we are all encouraged by the fact that Tracy's rehabilitation has been ahead of schedule, we must remain vigilant through the next stages of his recovery," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said in a statement on Monday. "No timeline has been set for his return. He will return when team doctors, officials and Tracy all agree it is best. We will refrain from further public comments."
McGrady told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that he has targeted the Nov. 18 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves for his return from knee surgery.
"Excited to get back and compete at a high level again," McGrady reportedly said in an e-mail to Yahoo! Sports. "For a full year I had to play on one leg against the best and I couldn't compete with anybody the way I was feeling. It's gonna be a relief to get out there and play knowing what I went [through] last season and this summer."
However, McGrady backed off that statement on Tuesday, saying instead that Nov. 18 was just a "target date."
"It's a target date," McGrady told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday. "I didn't say I was coming back; I said it was a target date just like we have a date to have the MRI on the 23rd. Everybody is blowing it out of proportion like I'm guaranteed to come back. I want to play, so that's what we're targeting. I've been working out every day, improving every day, and that's what it is.
"It's not a guarantee that I'm coming back. It's a target date," he said.
The seven-time All-Star underwent a risky microfracture procedure on his left knee on Feb. 24, and doctors said his recovery could take up to 12 months.
Morey said at the end of September that McGrady would have an MRI exam Nov. 23, and the team would have a better feel for when he'd return after that.
That prognosis was backed by a team source, who told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher on Monday night that McGrady will not be back before Nov. 23.
The Rockets, who are also playing without injured center Yao Ming, are off to a 4-2 start this season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.