HOUSTON -- Houston Rockets guard Tracy McGrady will be out 6-12 months after microfracture surgery on his left knee scheduled for Tuesday, but the team doctor is optimistic that the seven-time All-Star will regain his old form.
Dr. Tom Clanton said Monday that McGrady has a tiny lesion on his knee joint under his kneecap that was first detected in an MRI exam taken after the Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs in April. McGrady and the Rockets discussed microfracture surgery then, but opted for arthroscopic surgery, a more "conservative" approach that got McGrady ready for the start of the season, Clanton said.
But McGrady started having knee pain almost immediately after the season began. The Rockets tried limiting his practice time, keeping him out of the second games of back-to-back sets and resting him for two weeks in January, but the knee didn't improve.
"He did the best he could, tried to work through it," Rockets trainer Keith Jones said. "Everybody needs to know he pushed it, and he was so adamant about playing with this team."
Clanton said he may have erred by clearing McGrady to play in September, but added that McGrady was also part of that decision.
"I've told Tracy that I will take the blame," Clanton said. "I think that I let him return to play a little too quickly. That was obviously his decision as well. Perhaps if we had strengthened his knee more at the start, maybe he wouldn't have had these symptoms."
McGrady, in his 12th season, showed some flashes of the player he was before the injury, scoring 30 in a loss to Portland in November and getting a triple-double in a win over Denver in December. If the surgery and rehab are successful, Clanton thinks McGrady will have that potential when he returns.
"He'll be to a point where he will be as good as you saw him this season, when he's been at his best," Clanton said. "That would be what I would expect."
Several NBA players have undergone microfracture knee surgery with mixed results. Amare Stoudemire and Jason Kidd are among notable players who've resumed their careers successfully after the procedure; Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway are among the group who were never the same.
Clanton said the 29-year-old McGrady has several factors in his favor, starting with his age. Clanton also said the joint damage is in a "favorable location," not near a weight-bearing area, and that McGrady's knee is otherwise healthy.
"My expectation is that he will be able to resume play and be as athletic as he was before," Clanton said.
McGrady first revealed that he would undergo microfracture surgery in an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith last Tuesday. McGrady then made a public announcement on his Web site the following day. Coach Rick Adelman lashed out at McGrady for not properly informing the team and general manager Daryl Morey said he wanted to talk to McGrady about his apparent decision.
On Monday, the team officially confirmed that McGrady would have the surgery in Chicago, and McGrady apologized on his Web site to team owner Leslie Alexander and the Rockets for "this entire situation."
"I'm sorry to all those who were counting on me to help this team achieve great things," McGrady said. "Coach Adelman has been extremely accommodating and patient with me while we have tried to work through this, and I am thankful to him for that. It's hard enough to prepare night in and night out to go up against the best players in the world, and it's even harder to do it without knowing the status of your players."
McGrady averaged 15.6 points, five assists and 4.4 rebounds this season. The Rockets are 15-6 in the 21 games he's missed, 8-1 in the last nine.
Houston is 35-21, fifth in the Western Conference, heading into Tuesday's game against Portland. The Blazers are a half-game ahead of the Rockets in the West standings.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.