No Yao Ming. No Ron Artest. No chance for the playoffs? That was the pre-season consensus on Houston. The Rockets, though, are proving the sum sometimes can be greater than individual parts. Rick Adelman, one of the league’s underrated coaches, has Houston playing .500 basketball heading into tonight’s game in the Ford Center. But how will early season momentum be affected once Tracy McGrady returns? McGrady underwent microfracture knee surgery in February and says he’s ready to play. Team officials say he’s not. Which has some asking an intriguing question: Could McGrady actually hamper the Rockets, who are thriving with a new up-tempo style? "There’s no doubt he’ll damage the good thing they’ve got going,” said New York Post NBA writer Peter Vecsey. "I love the way they’re moving the ball, sharing shots, setting honest-to-goodness picks. Who needs even a healthy McGrady hoisting up 3s without anyone else touching it?” After he was told by team management he’s not healthy enough to play, McGrady accused team owner Leslie Alexander of wanting to collect insurance money rather than let him suit up. Assuming McGrady, 30, is covered under the league’s temporary disability policy used for most stars, the Rockets were eligible to collect 80 percent of his per-game salary once he missed 41 consecutive games. That date arrived two weeks ago. In theory, the Rockets are collecting roughly $225,000 every game McGrady doesn’t play the remainder of the season. McGrady, earning a league-high $23.2 million this season, has missed 129 games with back and knee problems in six seasons with Houston. Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice said the organization doesn’t want to alter the rotation until they’re convinced McGrady is fully healed. "He wants to finish his rehab in games. They’re not going to do that,” Justice said. "They did that last year and it was a nightmare for team chemistry. Last year he was in and out of the lineup. They want it to be ‘When you’re back you’re back completely.’ ” A seven-time All-Star, McGrady averaged 32.1 points with Orlando seven years ago. While his average has declined, he owns a career 22.1 average. But McGrady missed 47 games last season. Now there are questions whether McGrady will ever return to his All-Star form. "The Rockets themselves — though they won’t admit it publicly — are afraid he’ll kill their chemistry,” said ESPN’s Chris Broussard. "T’Mac’s a ballstopper. He likes to have the ball in his hands all the time, which would not blend right now with what they’ve got going on.” Justice said the Rockets might be willing to trade McGrady but would want a quality player in return. In a tough economy most teams are less willing to take on expiring contracts. McGrady should return in December but not until he’s proven he’s healthy. "I think there’s going to be a cold war,” Justice said. "He wants to play to earn another contract. I don’t think they want to trade Tracy just to take on someone else’s contract mistake.” Text "OKTHUNDER” to 65360 for your chance to win an Adidas OKC Thunder #35 Kevin Durant Basketball Jersey. NewsOK Thunder alerts from NewsOK sponsored by Totally Tickets.