After Yahoo reported that Rockets coach Rick Adelman wanted nothing to do with McGrady, and were actively looking to trade him, less than 24 hours from that initial report, T-Mac and Adelman are reportedly on the same page.
There's still no deadline, but it's more apparent that Tracy will return within this month barring he hasn't been traded already.
Adelman mentioned he did not want to play him in the four in five game stretch beginning on the 15th, making him potentially available to play in the Rockets pair of games after the 19th. But considering it's a pair of back to backs, the return date for McGrady seems likely on the 23rd against the Magic, or the 27th against the Cavaliers.
“We anticipate him playing,” Adelman said. “It’s our 20th game. It’s not like we’re 60 games into it and he hasn’t played. This is the toughest, toughest part of our schedule. It’s a ton of games, and a ton of games on the road. There’s so many questions I want to be sure we have answers. Right now, medically, everything looks good. Now, it’s how does he keep improving?
Both Adelman and McGrady admitted there was confusion on both sides in what was deemed the "magical," date which would answer all questions, referring back to the November 23rd MRI.
“I told him, there are a lot of issues here because of last year, in and out of the lineup. When he does come back, how many minutes will he play? It has to be a positive thing for him and us when he does come back. Last year, we could do that. If he comes in and we change everything, this team is much more fragile. In my mind, I have to be sure this is the best thing for him and the best thing for us when we do bring him back.”
So, last week, it looked like McGrady had played his last game as a Houston Rocket, but now the clouds have cleared, and McGrady's return to the Rockets is fast approaching. The question now becomes, do Rocket fans want McGrady back?
For those who don't know, when Tracy McGrady announced season ending micro-fracture surgery on his knee, it was first heard by the media, rather than the Rockets organization. The way Adelman and Morey heard of the decision was the same way, both you and I heard McGrady was out for the season.
That move, and disappointing many fans in one of the most anticipated seasons of all time created a rift between Rocket fans and their former all-star McGrady.
The initial reaction will be negative, the Rockets are playing well, aside from the crushing loss to the Blazers on the Brandon Roy game-winner, the Rockets were winners of three in a row, and would qualify for the playoffs if it were to start today.
The Rockets may not welcome T-Mac back with open arms, but eventually the fans will come to respect that decision, as that will ultimately be the best for the team.
Can Tracy play in Adelman's system? Will he be able to play off his teammates and continue the further development of the younger Rockets?
There's evidence to show he can, and there'evidence he cannot. The main argument people point towards is McGrady's performance last season. That's not a clear indicator simply because he wasn't healthy last season. You can talk about how much he quit, or repeat that same tiresome Raptors clip with Jamario Moon over again, but it was clear he couldn't move when he was on the court, and some sort of action was needed to regain that explosiveness.
The evidence to show he can play within the system is in the 07-08 season. Before McGrady got injured against the Lakers, he was the only one grasping Adelman's system. He was averaging nearly 25 points per game, while shooting a career high from the field as a Rocket. He came back hobbled, but still was the catalyst behind a team effort for the Rockets 22 game winning streak.
Either way, the Rockets need for a player that can create his own shot, or for his teammates is obvious. Brooks is up and down, overall solid, but Ariza isn't getting the job done. Tracy, when healthy fits that role, he's one of the better play-makers in the league and a player that's not afraid to take the big shot down the stretch.
As it plays out now, the Rockets are a fringe playoff team. One that's missing a player of the skill-set that McGrady could potentially bring. The Rockets won't get any sort of positive value for McGrady, and it'd be unclassy of the organization to Marbury him.
He's motivated, and been on his best behavior these past couple of weeks. There's no harm in playing him, when he's reportedly committed to the cause in helping the team, and obviously himself in a contract season. He looks in very good shape, and never been a player criticized (at least in his Houston tenure) as being a selfish player on the court.
For the most part, he's been a positive rather than a negative. I didn't like what he did last season as much as anyone, but life is full of second chances.
And Tracy McGrady will get his this month. He could potentially take them to the next level, a team that could surprise those in the playoffs, or just a pairing that wasn't meant to be. Either way, a lot will come forth with both McGrady and the Rockets in these upcoming months.
Let's hope it turns out for the best.
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