The 2010-11 season is over for Yao Ming.
That was confirmed on Friday as team physician Dr. Walter Lowe and general manager Daryl Morey met with the media.
“I think this is a season-ending injury,” said Dr. Lowe. “Is this something where I would say ‘Hey, you got no chance of playing again’? No, absolutely not.”
Dr. Lowe said the injury is on the inside part of the ankle and he felt surgery to fix it was the “smartest course of action.” He felt it would be 4-6 months for the fracture to heal after surgery, then likely 3-4 months of rehab where Yao can slowly increase the weight on his ankle. However, it would not be a restructuring, saying that this fracture is not displaced and still anatomically located.
Still, there was no rush on a decision.
“There’s plenty of time to get all the bright minds of foot and ankle in the country together and look at it, talk to Yao and come up with a course of treatment that his doctors, he and I agree with,” said Lowe.
Lowe said the fracture “manifested itself” between two MRIs, but did not believe there was an incident or second injury that caused the fracture. He felt the injury in Washington was the event that led to the fracture.
Morey said it was too soon to know where they go from here with Yao.
“I think until we learn more, we still see Yao Ming as a potential future part of the team,” said Morey. “We need to continue to talk to the doctors and see where that goes. Obviously, Yao Ming is an All-Star center. You look throughout the league and there’s not many of them. So if it looks like there’s a good prognosis here, and we’re still learning how good that prognosis will be, then for sure we’re going to look at Yao Ming past this season.”
Morey said that lot of the circumstances around this injury give the Rockets a good chance to be granted an injury exception from the league, but the team has not finalized a course of action or talked to the league about that as of yet.
Morey kept expectations in check.
“There’s no Yao Ming store you can go to get another one with his abilities,” said Morey, who stressed how unique Yao is. “It’s definitely a setback that we don’t have him this season.”
The Rockets GM conceded that Yao’s return this year was a key part of the Rockets chance of being a contender this year, but he wasn’t giving up on the team.
“We felt like this season, where we could make this a special season, was Yao Ming comes back, people step up on our team, maybe there’s a move that’s made, and we felt like we could really make some noise this season,” said Morey. “We still feel like we’re a team that can make the playoffs this season. We feel like we’re fighting with maybe four to five other teams for maybe the seventh, eighth seeds this season. I know our guys in the locker room aren’t writing this season off. I know I’m not. I know Coach Adelman isn’t. We still think this can be a great season.”