McGrady planning Nov. 18 return

Tracy McGrady hasn't played for the Rockets since Feb. 9 because of microfracture left knee surgery

After eight months of rehabilitation on his surgically repaired left knee, Tracy McGrady(notes) has told Yahoo! Sports he plans to return to the Houston Rockets’ lineup on Nov. 18.

After several league sources informed Yahoo! Sports of McGrady’s timetable, the seven-time All-Star forward confirmed he planned to make his season debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis next week.

"Excited to get back and compete at a high level again,” McGrady said in an email to Yahoo! Sports. “For a full year I had to play on one leg against the best and I couldn't compete with anybody the way I was feeling.

“It’s gonna be a relief to get out there and play knowing what I went [through] last season and this summer.”

While McGrady is awaiting final clearance from team doctors, Rockets sources don’t expect there to be any problems.

One source close to McGrady says he’s “still feeling a little pain” in his knee, but the front office and coaching staffs are encouraged by his progress. Houston general manager Daryl Morey refused to commit to a firm date for McGrady's possible return.

“While we are all encouraged by the fact that Tracy’s rehabilitation has been ahead of schedule, we must remain vigilant through the next stages of his recovery," Morey said in a statement released by the team Monday night. "No timeline has been set for his return. He will return when team doctors, officials and Tracy all agree it is best."

An intensive summer-long rehab process with renowned trainer Tim Grover in Chicago has been the catalyst, McGrady insists, for restoring his battered body and knee. McGrady had microfracture surgery in February which ended his 2008-09 season after 35 games. In his 12-year career, McGrady has won two scoring titles and been named NBA first-team twice.

With McGrady and franchise center Yao Ming(notes) sidelined with injuries, the Rockets have been the biggest surprise of the young season, winning four of six games. They also lost an overtime game to the defending champion Lakers.