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Do The Houston Rockets Want Tracy McGrady Back?

Today, Houston Coach Rick Adelman told the Houston Chronicle that there’s no timetable set for McGrady’s return:

“The biggest thing in talking to him is he doesn’t have the pain he had last year,” Adelman said. “He still has a long ways to go as far as running the court, moving, defensively, those types of things. The biggest thing in his mind is last year he had a definite limp. He does not have that. Coming off that (microfracture) surgery, you’re not going to have that explosiveness. You’re not going to have the quickness.”

The Rockets also might not be as equipped as last season to adjust if McGrady needs to work his way back.

“We are not the same team we were last year,” Adelman said. “We had Yao (Ming) and things we could fall back on and work him in, work him out. We don’t have that capability this year. Anytime you throw any player in to the mix it’s going to impact the team.”

Does anyone else get the feeling that Houston is perfectly happy playing without McGrady? The chemistry in Houston is on par with the best teams in the league, and McGrady, however decorated an NBA superstar, is not exactly a favorite son of Houston’s management right now. Or for the past year, for that matter.

The Chronicle alluded to this in yesterday’s column:

Rockets coach Rick Adelman was livid at the way the announcement was handled. McGrady described it as a misunderstanding, and really, going public with the decision before discussing it privately did no harm. It wasn’t the announcement that ended his season.

A season later, however, he clearly has not learned from the experience, or simply does not care if the Rockets object to his announcements. He said during the summer that he was 99 percent back and would be ready to practice with the team at the start of training camp. Things did not work out that way. According to the Rockets, he still has not gone through a full practice.

For anyone that’s followed the situation in Houston over the past twelve months, you’ve seen two disparate storylines. On the one hand, you’ve got a feel-good bunch of very good role players, surpassing expectations and delighting fans and management alike. On the other, you’ve got McGrady, the league’s highest paid player, who announced that he’d need season-ending surgery without consulting with the team, and without giving Rockets GM Daryl Morey an opportunity to explore trade scenarios. You don’t just wake up one day and need microfracture surgery.

McGrady had to have seen it coming, or at least knew there was something wrong with his knee. But instead of keeping in touch with Morey, he kept to himself, and then independently decided to have surgery. Not exactly what you’re looking for out of a guy that’s making a league-high $23 million.

So now that the Rockets have weathered the storm that McGrady’s injury created, is it really all that surprising that Houston’s management and coaching staff might be weary of McGrady, and in no rush to bring him back into the fold? The Rockets won’t get that much better with McGrady, and his presence risks disrupting a core that’s evolved into a rather compelling, if overachieving, bunch of young players.

Think about it. Overpaid, overrated, injury-prone, and selfish—Tracy McGrady is the exact opposite of what’s made Houston a good team over the past year. Would you want him back?