In completely unsurprising news, Rockets doctor Walter Lowe informed the press at the Rockets facility today that Yao Ming’s injury is season-ending. According to Clutchfans, he would not say that the injury was career-ending.
Whether Yao keeps playing or not, this officially will end his contract with the Rockets, which ran through only this season. The Rockets will have a lot of decisions to make about their team in the near future, and whether to go back to the well with Yao is one of them that should be treaded on rather lightly.
Given that the big man has played in just a few games in the last two years, and the possibility of an NBA lockout, interest should be rather low in him as a free agent. Would it be low enough for Yao to come back to the Rockets as a 10th man or something of that ilk? Probably not. But my guess is that the Rockets could retain him for around $5 million if they wanted to. Will they do it? That one will depend on a lot more than we know right now.
EDIT: According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, GM Darryl Morey says that if Yao's prognosis is favorable, the team could still keep him in their plans.