Rick Adelman fielded a number of questions about Yao Ming on Monday at Rockets training camp in Austin, expressing satisfaction with his progress.
“I think just having him on the court, playing and participating in all the drills — that’s what you’re looking for,” said Adelman. “I think just [his teammates] seeing him out here and when he does certain things, it’s encouraging to the team because they know what kind of team we can be with him.”
However, the Rockets coach wanted to make it clear that Yao still has a long road ahead.
“If anybody expects to see the same guy from two years ago, you’re kidding yourself,” said Adelman. “He’s coming off a major injury and hasn’t played 5-on-5 for fifteen months. I’ve been encouraged by just the fact he’s out there, he’s going through the drills. He’s just going to get better. As long as there are no physical problems, he’s just going to get better.”
While the 24-minute time limit is the cap for the regular season, the Rockets are limiting Yao to just 12 minutes in a scrimmage here in camp.
“Halfway through the practice, he’s done,” said Adelman.
Initially, Adelman spread Yao’s time out over practice but the past two days he’s burned up Yao’s minutes in the first half of practice.
“Once he’s warmed up and he’s playing, you might as well let him play and not try to hold him back,” said Adelman. “It’s hard to ignore him. We’re going to play a certain way, and he’s going to be involved. Let him play, do what we want to do and let him fit in. As he gets more comfortable and better conditioned, then we’ll start worrying about everything else.”