Since it is likely that we will never have perfect, or even imperfect, knowledge of the situation, and the true goings-on behind the scenes with McGrady and the Rockets, I thought I'd once again stir the congealing goo at the bottom of that pot. (If you keep picking at it, it'll never heal, idiot. Whoops, inner monologue slip there.)
OK - Here's the theory...
Axiom: McGrady and The Rockets are, in fact, quite fond of one another and would do the other a good turn if they could. (I know, just go with it for the sake of argument.)
McGrady, after his summer rehab and working out like mad with Grover, felt great. The Rockets believed he probably did feel great, but wasn't nearly ready to play. Thus the weird October-December suiting up, not playing, thing.
But, Tracy was persistent, he felt great. So he practiced a bit, and Adelman allowed that, yeah, he looked like he could go out there and shake the rust off for a few minutes at a time. 8-10 minutes, particularly with Budinger out, weren't likely to hurt the Rockets. McGrady might either play well and help, or at least get in game shape and show he was able to contribute. It could lead to something worthwhile sooner than expected.
But! Remember when everyone with experience of microfracture thought he'd be back, oh, late January, or maybe after the ASG? Maybe not at all in 09-10? Well, it turns out they were right - McGrady felt great, but was in no wise healed enough to actually play ball. Each game was a misery, and despite public complaining McGrady knew that 8 minutes in the first half was all he could do before his knee looked like a grapefruit, and he'd start limping visibly.
So, what's to do? Remember the initial theory - McGrady and Houston actually like one another. After 45 minutes of NBA action McGrady realized that the "after the ASG" return schedule was, perhaps, the realistic one. He needed to get back to rehab pronto, but he didn't want to shaft the Rockets.
So, a tiff was created by both parties. McGrady demanded something he knew the Rockets could never, ever, give him: control of his playing time. McGrady then requested a trade, and hied to Chicago (with the Rockets blessing) for more desperately needed rehab. He really thinks he'll be fine sometime in say, early February to early March.
The Rockets get a chance to trade him, with all seeming well with McGrady except his ego. McGrady gets more time to get ready to play, realizing his earlier timetable didn't prepare him for full time NBA pounding and stress.
McGrady chose secret honor, while appearing a vainglorious ninny.
McGrady lovers, this is your way out. It explains why he'd make a trade demand when it is obvious such a demand would lower his value and make a deal less likely. Because there was no other choice, except to shed real doubt on his ability to play, something neither side wanted. It also accounts for the complete silence regarding TMac from the Rockets front office. The Rockets are working to trade him, and beyond that have said nothing whatsoever. TMac has been oddly quiet, too.
PS - the post title is taken from a fascinating little movie/one-man-show about Richard Nixon starring the amazing Phillip Baker Hall. If you have any interest in Nixon, or the period, it's worth a place on your Netflix queue - a completely different thing from the big-budget Anthony Hopkins affair. It presents an interesting theory, and offers a great individual performance. Does this mean I think Tracy McGrady is the Richard Nixon of the NBA? You make the call.