Reports: Yao could miss next season

Updated: June 30, 2009, 1:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Houston Rockets already said that Yao Ming's recovery from a broken foot was behind schedule, but that setback might now cost him all of next season or worse.

Yao
Yao

"At this point, the injury has the potential for him missing this next season and could be career threatening," team physician Tom Clanton said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "One of the things we are trying to get is a consensus opinion on that, to make certain there is no option we are overlooking that would provide an earlier return or would be an option for treatment that he would prefer rather than doing additional surgery."

Yahoo! Sports first reported that Yao could miss next season.

The team is weighing different options. Yao suffered a hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone of his left foot in the Rockets' second-round playoff loss to the Lakers on May 8.

The team initially said Yao would miss eight to 12 weeks, but a bone scan last week revealed that the fracture is not healing properly.

"We are not going to comment," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said, according to the Chronicle, "until we have all the facts."

Although Yao could face surgery to insert a pin in the foot, a bone graft or even realignment of the foot, the team is trying immobilization for right now. The Rockets are hoping that the fracture heals on its own.

"I don't think that is necessarily a longshot," Clanton said, according to the newspaper. "It takes a lot of time. It may be best to take more time. Sometimes that is the best option."

The Rockets are encouraged because Yao is not feeling any symptoms of the fracture.

"He has no tenderness, no swelling, no redness," Clanton said, according to the Chronicle. "When he came back in, he was feeling like everything was perfect, and he would start rehabilitation and get ready to play. The findings on the CT were shocking for him and for us."

Yao played in 77 regular-season games in 2008-09, his most injury-free season since 2004-05, when he played in 80. Before last season, Yao missed chunks of the previous three seasons with leg and foot injuries.

He missed 21 games in 2005-06 after having surgery to heal an infection in his left big toe, then broke a bone in his left foot with four games left in the regular season.

In 2006-07, Yao missed 32 games after breaking his right leg and he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in 2007-08, underwent surgery and sat out 26 games.

Yao hurried back from that foot injury to represent China in the Beijing Olympics. He made it through the Rockets' season and the first round of the playoffs before breaking his left foot late in the Rockets' 108-94 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the second round at the Toyota Center.

Two days later, Yao said he didn't believe the injury was as serious as any of his previous ones. The Rockets said he would miss only eight to 12 weeks.

But last week, the team said Yao would undergo additional tests and consult with other doctors to map out a new course of treatment.

Yao averaged 19.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season and 17.1 and 10.9 in the playoffs before he went down.

Yao is due to make more than $16 million next season, with a player option for 2010-11 that would pay him more than $17 million.

He was the top overall pick by the Rockets in the 2002 draft.

The Rockets already expect Tracy McGrady to miss at least the first half of next season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE