In a major blow to the Houston Rockets, their third-leading scorer and star forward, Tracy McGrady has announced that he will undergo a microfracture surgery on his knee and will miss the rest of the season.

T-Mac complained of persistent pain in his knee and had consulted with physicians before the All-Star break to find the best possible course of treatment for his knee. Having already missed 18 games in the season for his sore knee, the Rockets’ man decided to have a more permanent solution to his misery.

McGrady met with a doctor in New York on Tuesday and had another appointment scheduled for Wednesday and post his meetings, announced that he would be heading into surgery as soon as possible, or in his words, “immediately”.

“It has been extremely frustrating dealing with the knee injury this season,” McGrady said. “It’s been tough on me both physically and mentally and while we’ve come to this conclusion after much deliberation, we truly feel this is best for both me and the Rockets in the long term.”

Things were not fine at the Rockets’ practice session on Wednesday after coach, Rick Adelman hammered down on McGrady for not letting the team know of his intentions. Adelman is said to have found out the details of his future absence from a newspaper report.

“There should be a protocol, there should be a procedure where we have a chance to sit down and talk about the situation and not be announced in the press,” Adelman said. “I don’t know why that happened, why he did that. Certainly, that is not the way things should be handled.”

While many teammates also claimed that they found out through the newspapers, Ron Artest didn’t feel shock, as he felt that it was expected.

“Everybody pretty much knew he was going through some tough times right now in his career,” said Artest, the replacement for McGrady in the last two games. “I knew it was pretty severe for him not to be able to practice and play.”

In the last 19 games without McGrady, the Rockets have won 13 including the last two, however, they are 33-21 for the season and are in fifth place in the Western Conference standings. This has been despite the team suffering from a number of injury loses throughout the season. Almost 10 Rockets’ players have missed a total of 113 games and now, some players are expressing relief on learning about T-Mac’s situation.

“If the reports are true, it gives us certainty,” said forward Shane Battier. “We can finally move on. We know who we have, and we don’t have to worry about who is coming back from injury.”

“When Yao went down, that was devastating,” Battier said. “Obviously, Tracy is a great player and he’s a big part of what we did. But Yao, at the time, was our foundation.”

Yao Ming had fractured his left foot in February 2008 and went on to miss the last 26 games of the regular season. Despite his absence, the Rockets had 10 back-to-back wins and according to Battier, T-Mac’s absence will be easier to handle than Yao’s was.

McGrady came to the Rockets in 2004 from the Orlando Magic and since then, has been anything but his old self. The 7-time All-Star player has had a rapid decrease in his numbers while his health is rapidly worsening. He has missed 85 games since arriving at Houston for a variety of injuries and the knee injury is just another addition to the list.

McGrady had mentioned, way back before the September 2008 training camp, that his knee had not completely healed and that he was still feeling pain. That was followed by missed games and a two-week rest in December and January respectively. He came back for 7 games after the break but was again gone, after the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 9th.

“We’ve tried just playing through it, taking back-to-backs off, and extended periods of rest,” McGrady wrote. “But none of it has really been effective in limiting the discomfort and allowing me to just go out there and play.”

McGrady’s averages for 2008-09 are at 15.6 ppg and 4.4 rebounds per game, miles below his career averages. His shooting percentage was at a dismal 38.8 percent from the field. Without McGrady, the Rockets have clearly suffered, as is shown in their 33-52 record in the games that he has been missing.

“You get paid to coach the people you have,” Adelman said. “My choice is to have Tracy McGrady healthy and the player we knew. That gives us a much better chance to win games.”

McGrady’s contract will be up next season and he is due to make a cool $23 million more. However, Les Alexander, the team owner, has claimed that T-Mac can still be a big deal for the Rockets and can make take them to the top of the pile.

“I always thought he was injured and had [health] problems,” Alexander said. “He’s a great player when he’s healthy, and a great competitor.”

Anjali nambissan
Sports Pundit member

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