T-Mac is done for the season

Well, it’s been another one of those years for Tracy McGrady — the guy just can’t stay healthy. Now he says he needs microfracture surgery on the same knee he had scoped in May of 2008.

McGrady had arthroscopic surgery on the knee last May and has been slow to recover. The seven-time All-Star missed much of January trying to get the knee back in shape and had an MRI last week to try to discover why it was still bothering him.

“The last couple of games, I’ve regressed,” McGrady said during halftime of last Wednesday’s game. “I’ve felt pain.”

McGrady’s numbers are down across the board this season. He is the Rockets’ third-leading scorer at 15.6 points per game and is averaging 4.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest. He is shooting a career-worst 39 percent from the field.

Recovery from microfracture surgery can be as short as four months for some patients to eight months or longer depending on the severity of the injury and damage to the surrounding cartilage. If McGrady has the surgery now, he’d have eight months to recover before the start of the 2009-10 season.

The Rockets are currently 5th in the Western Conference playoff race, but are just three games ahead of the Suns, who are sitting in the 9th spot.

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Yao says that things are fine with McGrady

Yesterday, we posted a rumor (from “a source close to the situation”) that Yao Ming was tired of Tracy McGrady’s injury issues.

Yao said, however, that a report of locker-room discord to the point that he and Tracy McGrady do not speak and that he wants McGrady off the team are not true.

Responding to an NBA.com story that he and McGrady are not on speaking terms and that he wants McGrady out, Yao said the report is not accurate.

“I’m upset,” he said, “(that) this news is fake.”

That McGrady and Yao still talk, even beyond the conversations necessary as teammates, is not news. They can often be seen conversing on the practice court, in the locker room and on the road.

Well, I’m glad that’s settled.

Yao getting frustrated with T-Mac?

On Tuesday, we discovered that the Rockets organization was getting tired of T-Mac’s act, and now there’s a rumor that Yao Ming is growing weary of it as well.

According to a source close to the situation, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are no longer speaking with each other off the court. Ming is apparently so fed up with McGrady’s chronic injuries that he told the officials in Houston to get him out of the organization.

Another source also revealed that Yao’s frustration is real. And Yao is not the only person that is grown tired of McGrady’s self-diagnosis, his up-to-the-last-minute decisions on whether he will play or not.

If true, this could deal a serious blow to the Rockets’ 2009 title hopes. If a team doesn’t have chemistry between its stars, it’s unlikely that it will survive the gauntlet that is the NBA postseason. It’s a little funny that Yao is frustrated with T-Mac’s injuries when the big man has been injured several times himself. However, Yao’s injuries have typically been fractures and of the season-ending variety, not this nebulous, self-diagnosis stuff that McGrady has been experiencing with his knee.

Unless they have some serious success in the playoffs, the Rocket will face a crossroads this offseason. They’re currently building around two injury-prone players. T-Mac has another year left on his contract, so he may be tradeable as his deal expires before the now-infamous summer of 2010. Still, his giant salary ($23.2 million) is a doozy, and it’s possible that the Rockets would rather let his deal expire than to take on all that salary in return. Yao is 28 (assuming his Chinese birth certificate is legit) and he has two more years left on his deal. The team’s third best player — Ron Artest — will be a free agent after the season.

If the Rockets don’t make a run, we could see a very different lineup at the start of the 2009-10 season.

Rockets to T-Mac: “Get in shape.”

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets are getting frustrated with Tracy McGrady.

If you read between all the nice words, the Rockets sent a tough message to Tracy McGrady on Monday.

To summarize:

1. Get in better shape.
2. Learn to deal with the pain in your left knee.
3. Don’t come back until you do.

There were all sorts of things left unsaid as the Rockets delicately attempted to do the right thing for the team while not mentally losing their $21-million star.

Conditioning? That’s a tough word to use halfway through an NBA season. Is McGrady’s conditioning an issue because he hasn’t been working hard, or because his surgically repaired left knee won’t allow him to work hard?

Pain? Another tough one. The Rockets and their medical staff believe McGrady’s knee is sound and suggested he play through the pain.

McGrady has been unable to do this, and it’s important to remember that none of us — including the doctors — knows how badly McGrady is hurting. If he says the pain is intolerable, then the pain is intolerable.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if the Rockets have all three of their stars come playoff time, they are going to be a very dangerous team. But the way that the Western Conference playoff race is shaping up, there is going to be one very good team left out in the cold. The longer T-Mac is out, the greater the likelihood that the Rockets will be fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot in April instead of having a comfortable #3 or #4 seed.

Surprise, surprise… T-Mac is going to miss three weeks

This is why it’s hard to get excited about the Houston Rockets.

Over the past three seasons, Tracy McGrady has missed an average of 21 games due to injury. Now the AP is reporting that T-Mac is going to miss three weeks as he rehabs his sore left knee.

Here’s what I wrote in our season preview of the Rockets:

If T-Mac, Yao Ming and Ron Artest can all play 75+ games and are healthy for the playoffs, this team will be very competitive. But as history has shown us, that is a HUGE “if.” Yao hasn’t played more than 57 games in any of the last three seasons and McGrady is averaging 61 games played over the same span. So the Rockets can’t really hope that the duo will stay healthy, they just have to hope that whatever injuries T-Mac and Yao do sustain aren’t of the season-ending variety.

Hey, at least this isn’t a season-ending injury.

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