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What Happens When McGrady Returns?

From SB Nation’s The Dream Shake, some thoughts on McGrady’s return:

First, the most pressing question revolves around T-Mac’s actual ability. What can we expect from post-microfracture? If he is healthy “again,” what does that mean? The answers to those questions are basically unknowable until McGrady gets on the court again. Reports look good, but that doesn’t really mean much. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that unless McGrady can return to pre-‘07-’08 form, he is not much of an upgrade over what we have now.

Second, what does Adelman actually do with Tracy? McGrady’s e-mail (or at least how it was reported) suggests he expects to be a part of the starting lineup upon return, but we all know that seems either unlikely or undesirable. It has been almost a year since McGrady last played competitive basketball, and well over a year since he last played quality basketball.

When McGrady is healthy (and it has been years since he was last healthy for any meaningful length of time), his skillset is unique and invaluable. He’s a premier scorer, has excellent court vision and ball control, and he rebounds effectively. And if he feels like it he can defend at an elite level, too.

But we have no idea of what we’re going to get when McGrady returns. So perhaps the expectation (on the part of both McGrady and the fans) should be that Tracy starts off on the bench, switching out with Ariza while he gets back on his feet. After that…

Well, that’s a larger question, isn’t it?

Indeed, with the Rockets sitting at 4-2 heading into tonight’s game vs. Dallas, McGrady returns not as some white knight ready to save a hapless team, but as a potentially disruptive force that’ll have to be assimilated carefully and with some measure of patience. He hasn’t played in more than a year, and the Rockets have adopted something of a new identity in his and Yao Ming’s absence. Where offense used to revolve around two superstars, today, the Rockets feature a balanced attack, compensating for what could be considered a lack of overall talent by playing smart, tough basketball. Is McGrady ready to be a part of that?