Rockets learn of surgery through media

Updated: February 18, 2009, 7:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

HOUSTON -- Rockets coach Rick Adelman lashed out at Tracy McGrady after practice on Wednesday for not informing the team he will undergo surgery on his left knee. Adelman said he only learned that McGrady was out for the season when he read it in a newspaper in the morning.

"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."

Some of the Rockets said they also found out through the media, but Ron Artest said the news came as no surprise.

"Everybody pretty much knew he was going through some tough times right now in his career," said Artest, who's started the past two games in McGrady's place. "I knew it was pretty severe for him not to be able to practice and play."

The star forward said on his Web site Wednesday that the pain has been persistent and he will have microfracture surgery. He's confident he'll return next season.

McGrady is Houston's third-leading scorer. He had arthroscopic surgery in May and has missed 18 games this season because of his sore knee. He also missed one game with a sprained ankle. He said before the All-Star break he wanted to consult with doctors before deciding on the best course of treatment on his knee.

ESPN.com first reported that McGrady was out for the season after the Rockets beat the Nets on Tuesday night.

Rockets spokesman Nelson Luis said McGrady met with a doctor in New York on Tuesday and had another out-of-state doctor's appointment scheduled Wednesday. McGrady said he would have the surgery "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."

The Rockets have won their past two games without McGrady and 13 of 19 without him this season. Houston is 33-21 overall this season and in fifth place in the Western Conference.

Houston has been coping with injuries all season -- 10 players have missed a total of 113 games. Some players say they're relieved to learn something definitive about McGrady.

"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."

Last February, Yao Ming broke his left foot and missed the last 26 games of the season. The Rockets ran off 10 consecutive victories after Yao was hurt, and Battier said the Rockets will adapt easier to McGrady's absence than they did to Yao's.

"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."

Houston acquired McGrady in June 2004 in a trade with Orlando, but the seven-time All-Star has been a disappointment in five seasons. His scoring numbers have steadily decreased while his health issues have increased.

He's already missed 85 games overall since arriving, including 34 in 2005-06 and 10 in 2006-07 with back pain, and 12 games last season with a bone bruise and tendinitis in his left knee.

McGrady said on the day before training camp began in late September that his knee was not healed from the surgery and was still painful. By December, McGrady was skipping the second games of back-to-back sets and took two weeks off in January to rest his knee. He returned and played seven games, then stopped playing after a loss to Milwaukee on Feb. 9.

Two days later, McGrady said he was going to seek doctors to discuss his knee, but expected to play again this season. He added that he would consider surgery only as a last resort.

"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 was averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season, well below his career averages, and was shooting a career-low 38.8 percent from the field.

Houston is 33-52 in games McGrady has missed since 2004.

"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 is due to make $23 million next season, the last year of his contract.

Team owner Les Alexander said before Tuesday's game that the Rockets would not try to deal McGrady before Thursday's trade deadline. Alexander also said he still believes the 29-year-old McGrady is a key component to making the Rockets contenders again.

"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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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