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Monday November 23, 2009 7:33 PM

McGrady Back At Practice


Rockets' guard goes through full workout with team

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

HOUSTON - Labeling it “no big deal,” Tracy McGrady made it through his first full practice of the season today at Toyota Center.

The 7-time All-Star took part in the workout from start to finish, taking the next step in his return from the microsurgery procedure on his left knee which prematurely ended his 2008-09 season.

McGrady said he felt fine after the fact and though he reiterated his belief that he feels as if he’s ready to play now, he also understands that he needs more time before a return to form is possible.

“It was good,” said McGrady. “Honestly it wasn’t different than any other practice. It’s a typical practice, getting up and down with my guys. It’s what I thought it would be. Everybody’s making a big deal of the 23rd date – I don’t know why. It’s no different than any other practice that I’ve been participating. I don’t know why this is such a big thing.

“Obviously, being out for so long, it takes awhile to get in NBA playing shape and gain the rhythm and moving with consistency in this game. I could play right now but who knows where my rhythm would be? That takes time, I don’t care how great of a player you are. If you’ve been out for a long time, it takes time. You have to play in games to gain your rhythm.”

After practice, McGrady underwent an MRI on his left knee at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute. In a statement released by the team, Rockets Head Orthopedic Dr. Walter Lowe said the MRI "showed no change from the test previously conducted in September. Tracy is on a normal course of recovery and has the expected level of performance for someone at his stage following microfracture surgery.  We will continue to monitor his progress over the coming weeks to ensure that pain and swelling are kept to a minimum after further periods of practice participation."

Rockets' Assistant Coach Elston Turner says he empathizes with T-Mac's desire to get back on the floor as soon as possible. Yet he also recognizes the inherent value of taking a cautious approach with McGrady's comeback, especially given the serious nature of the microfracture procedure and the long and very delicate recovery process which typically accompanies the operation.

“He’s a competitor,” said Rockets’ Assistant Coach Elston Turner. “What athlete, what former All-Star, wouldn’t want to play? He’s gone through a major surgery and he is coming back and it’s a process to get him back on the court full time. But when you’re building a team, there’s chemistry that develops so when he does come back we would like him to be back - instead of in a week, out a week. He went though through the workout today, he started and he finished but it’s still a process and we have to bring him back slowly.

“I do know that our regular guys have been going at it since the end of September. So if you look at in terms of a timetable, this is basically Tracy’s training camp as far as catching up and being ready. It’s good to see him. Everybody would like him back, he’s an All-Star but we want him back like the All-Star Tracy McGrady.”

As far as T-Mac’s performance during the nearly two-hour long practice, Turner described it as being about what you’d expect from a player who has not seen game action in more than nine months.

“There’s some fatigue factors there,” said Turner. “In spurts he looked good and in spurts he didn’t. That gap goes along with the territory. Conditioning is one factor. When you come back you have to not only know the plays, you have to be physically ready to play. And if you are physically ready to play then there's the cardiovascular part of it. It’s all part of the process of getting back. It’s a long season and we’re going to take our time. We all have his best interests in our thoughts.

“He’ll continue to practice and he’s had a good attitude. He’s working with the guys. We will bring him back when we feel that we can consistently not miss a beat.”

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