Yao Ming’s minutes will be limited…all season

Rocket's Luis Scola #4 and Yao Ming #11 as the Lakers beat the Rockets 89-70 during game seven of a Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Sunday May 17, 2009 in Los Angeles Photo via Newscom

Per the Houston Chronicle

Yao will play no more than 24 minutes per game, Rockets vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones said. There will be no exceptions. If Yao has played his 24 minutes and the Rockets have the ball and eight seconds on the clock to make up a one-point deficit, Yao will not play those eight seconds.

Yao’s playing time will not average 24 minutes; it will end there. If he plays 22 minutes in one game, he will not play 26 the next. For that matter, if he plays two minutes one game, he will not play 26 the next. When Yao reaches his 24 minutes, he will be through for that game.

The article goes on to suggest that things could change in the playoffs, but the Rockets are bound and determined to get their big man to April fully healthy.

After missing just two games in his first three seasons, Yao has missed 173 of the next 410 games over the following five seasons, or 42% of his team’s games. What good is a franchise center if the guy can’t make it through the season without some sort of season-ending ailment?

That’s why the Rockets are so intent on limiting his workload. They hope that by reducing his minutes throughout the season, it will enable him to be healthy enough in the postseason.

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Yao Ming looks pretty good in a recent workout [video]

The big fella is moving around well in this recent workout:

Houston’s pitch to Chris Bosh

Last Friday, Chris Bosh used his Twitter page to ask his fans where he should play and why. Some see the move as harmless, while others think he’s out of line for baiting his fans like that. The truth is probably somewhere in between. With the playoffs in full swing — and Bosh sitting at home — I suspect he was missing the limelight a little bit and needed the ego boost.

Regardless, the move confirms that Bosh is seriously considering changing zip codes this summer and Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle suggests that the Rockets can put together one hell of a pitch for the native Texan.

Chris Bosh will open his front door at 12:01 a.m. July 1 and see a smiling Daryl Morey standing between Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming.

How’s that for a first impression?

Just to be clear, Justice doesn’t know that this is the plan, but if it is, that would be a pretty serious pitch. While most of the other teams with cap space — Miami, New York, Chicago, in particular — will be chasing after LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Houston may be the only team that has Bosh at the top of its list. And that may go a long way with Bosh, who has said in the past that he is the kind of player a franchise can build around.

The presence of Olajuwon and Yao would give a glimpse of the franchise’s past and potential future. Olajuwon won back-to-back titles in the ’90s while Yao is the big center that Bosh has always wanted to play with. (Remember, he thinks of himself as a power forward, not a center.)

The issue with the Rockets is that they don’t have any cap space and can’t sign Bosh outright. But if they can convince him to come to Houston, then the Rockets can then work out a deal with Toronto that is mutually beneficial. Marc Stein has a few ideas:

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China wants to know — will Yao Ming’s child be an American?

Can we expect Baby Yao to play for Team USA in 2032?

The Houston Rockets center recently returned to the United States with wife Ye Li. That prompted speculation among his followers that the baby girl due this summer could be born in America.

Chinese fans online have said that would be a betrayal of China — in part because it could deny the country a future star for the national team. Ye is also a basketball player, and stands 6 feet, 2 inches tall — still well short of Yao’s 7-6.

I expect the parents will arrange for the baby to have Chinese citizenship, but that’s pure speculation. This is obviously a very big deal in China.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The Top 10 NBA Free Agents of 2010

Originally published December 11, 2008.
Updated November 12, 2009.

The phrase “Summer of 2010” has become part of the NBA lexicon. Teams have been tripping over each other trying to clear cap space for next summer so that they can sign an impact free agent (or two). With that in mind, let’s take a look ahead at the free agent crop of 2010.

Below is a list of the top 10 players that are likely to be free agents next summer. I’m ranking them based mostly on talent, but it’s also important to note each player’s age in July of 2010, as that will affect his value and skill. For example, a 31 year-old Paul Pierce holds much more value than a 33 year-old Paul Pierce. Get the drift?

1. LeBron James, SF (26 years-old)
James is the golden boy of this free agent class and is the player that every franchise would love to land next summer. He will have just turned 26 and whatever team is lucky enough to sign him will – barring injury – enjoy four or five years of the best basketball of his career. The Cavs have gone “all in” this season, signing Shaq, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon, and re-signing Anderson Varejao. In the process, they gave up whatever cap space they would have enjoyed next summer. If Cleveland’s season ends in disappointment once again, it wouldn’t be surprising if LeBron decides to take his game elsewhere. Three teams — the Knicks, Bulls and Nets — jump out as good fits. LeBron has stated that his top priority is to become a “global icon” and playing in Manhattan would serve that purpose. If the Knicks are able to unload Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries before the trade deadline, then they’ll have the projected cap space to sign two top players on this list, and that might be enough to convince LeBron to sign on the dotted line. Plus, he’s familiar with Mike D’Antoni (via the duo’s work with Team USA) and the Knicks’ up-tempo system would be a near-perfect fit for LeBron’s skill set. The Nets offer a better supporting cast (led by Devin Harris and Brook Lopez) and the (impending?) move to Brooklyn would boost the franchise’s profile. Chicago has a number of pieces already in place (Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich) and is bigger market than Cleveland. But would LeBron want to go to the franchise that Michael Jordan built?
Note: Player option (PO)

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