The seven-time All-Star had microfracture surgery on his left knee in February, but insisted before Friday night's game against the streaking Atlanta Hawks that he's fully recovered.
"Right now, I could play," he said.
Not so fast. The Rockets believe McGrady needs more time and would risk hurting his knee again if he comes back too soon. The next step is an MRI exam on Monday.
"We have a difference of opinion," coach Rick Adelman said. "He wants to play. He's not ready to play. It's as simple as that."
Both sides denied a Yahoo! Sports report that the situation degenerated into a heated argument before the Rockets' previous game at Minnesota. The report quoted a person close to McGrady who was not identified.
"I don't know where that came from," McGrady said. "We talked but it was nothing that was reported like that. I mean, screaming and all."
Adelman shrugged off the report as "our world of the Internet."
"It seems like nowadays people want to dwell on one particular thing that may be newsworthy," he said. "Or maybe catch your eye when you look at it."
Whether the argument actually happened, it's clear that McGrady considers himself much further along in his recovery than the team's timetable.
"I don't know," he said. "It's all about what they want to do."
Tracy McGrady, used to be my favorite player in the league when I was younger, still is one of them, but this is what I want to see. Over the years the one thing I criticized him on was the lack of passion, the lack of fire, he was more of a player that relied a lot more on his talent rather than working hard because damn... he is pretty damned talented and athletic. But really, if he had it in him to really work hard, had a Kobe-like type of mentality to take care of his body and work on his game, the possibilities are endless, hell, we might be saying that someone other than #24 and #23 (soon to be #6) is currently the best player in the league. Him wanting to come back early really sounds good.
What could T-Mac have worked on? Like I just said taking care of his body, Kobe went through a number of injuries himself, but he had the tenacity to get through it all and get better ASAP, he even played through numerous injuries that most players will sit out with. All T-Mac had to do over the past couple of years was sneeze and his back would go out, and he'd be out for a couple of weeks.
Efficiency, could do anything and everything you want a guard to do, drive, slash, dish, shoot, finish inside, had a post game, but he never really shot the ball particularly well. He has a career 43%FG and 33% from downtown. Not horrible, but that's barely below average. While he had everything in his repertoire, T-Mac always liked to use screens not to drive to the hole, but to stop and pop it even when he had open lanes to the basket. One reason why his percentages aren't that good. In the post-season it's not much better, his FG is around the same at 43%, but his shooting actually goes down. Goes from 33% on the outside to 30%. His averages are higher, he averages more points, rebounds, and assists in the post-season, but he just puts so much unnecessary pressure on himself that he needs to just play the game. I think that's what gets to him. He has stated before, "This team is going to go as far as I take them" and while that may be true to a certain extent, it's not ALL on you T-Mac. There are 4 other guys on the floor, and at least 12 guys on the bench with the same jersey ready to come in and contribute at any time. A lot of the game is mental, and I really do believe that T-Mac thinks he's all alone out there. Sure he's had Yao Ming, but you can't just go in with a "it's us two against the world" type of mentality, what about the other guys? Take advantage of your advantage, and while T-Mac is a very talented player and can take over at any given time, he tries to do it too much in the post-season, his nickname "Me-Mac" begins to manifest itself and he constantly tries to will his team to victory, which is what you want from a star player... but not all the time.
I guess you can't really blame him though, he's also right when he asks who has he ever had? Ming's always injured, Grant Hill was injured back in Orlando, and T-Mac was out while Artest was in Houston. Aside from those guys, he really has been surrounded by nothing but role players. Like I said in my last post, think Pau Gasol with the Grizzlies. All role players that fit perfectly with your star player is fine, but not one player has ever shown that he could do it all by himself. Although there was one year where T-Mac could have had a chance to advance, and that was back in '05 when he and Yao Ming took the Mavericks to a 7 game series in the first round, but again this is where T-Mac's mental ability comes into play. T-Mac started that game really really cold, shooting as poor as you can get (missed his first 7 of 8 shots), and got frustrated early in that game picking up an unnecessary technical, as the Mavericks took advantage and blew out T-Mac's Rockets by 40+ points.
Again it all boils down to his state of mind. Does he have the passion, the fire? Does he really have it in him to advance his team to the next round? Is he looking too much into himself to win the game? He's had his chances, and was just unable to deliver. It was more of the same in 2007 against the Jazz in the first round. 7-game series and the superstar T-Mac couldn't pull out the victory on his own home floor after winning the first three home games in that round.
Like I said with Jennings, T-Mac has "it", and while his situation is different the problem still is what he's doing with "it". Reports are saying that T-Mac looks like a new guy and feels really good. This article says T-Mac really wants to come back and that's already a good step forward for him so start really proving his worth. I remember reading an article about him going through some therapy this past summer that I can't find, it said that T-Mac's working with a new trainer and it has him feeling better then ever. He supposedly was able to dunk off his legs a lot faster after not being able to with past treatments.
If any of this is true, I'm looking forward to a resurgent T-Mac to see if he could reignite the fan-ship we all once had with him. So far everything looks and sounds right, he even changed his number to signify a new start. Kobe really changed as a player when changing to #24. Let's hope that it's the same for the Mac.