To be blunt, it doesn’t make much sense for Yao Ming to pick up his player option for the 2010-2011 season.
If we’re talking about Yao’s best interests, financially, this is a risky decision. I’m fully aware of next season’s salary cap and how player salaries could drastically decrease in the coming years, but this sure is a gamble. What if Yao injures himself again this year and is forced to sit out another few months? Doesn’t that drastically alter his chances of receiving a lucrative long-term deal once his current contract expires? In a word, yes. Yes it does.
Thankfully, Yao is OK with that. If I hadn’t previously respected The Ming Dynasty to the absolute fullest degree, I certainly do now. By and large, he is putting a huge chunk of the marbles into this coming season. Not to say that Yao wouldn’t re-sign with the Rockets had he opted out, but in this case, he gives the front office one less problem to deal with. He also puts himself in the hot seat. If he performs well, he’ll get a nice long-term deal next season. If he gets hurt, he won’t get nearly as much money as he could have right now.
That said, I’d rather not focus about particulars of that kind, since they don’t matter anymore. Like a true, loyal professional, Yao has put to bed any worries surrounding his status with the team. Now, the team is able to focus on bettering the roster and finding a way to win games. That’s the way that it should be, and the Rockets owe it to Yao to do the best that they can.
Also, it's nice for the Rockets to be able to tell a free agent target, "You will be able to play with Yao Ming," instead of "You might be able to play with Yao Ming, but no guarantees." That could make a huge difference come signing time.