Rockets center Yao Ming, speaking to the Peninusla Morning News in China, was a lot more blunt than he had been over the past regarding his future. Thanks to NiuBBall.com for the translations:
Yao stated “It all depends on the ankle. If I can get it healthy, then I’ll retire in two years. Otherwise, it’ll be this summer.”
But, in recent weeks, Yao has been less and less optimistic about a possible return. Answering questions from China Daily while doing charity work in Gansu province last Friday, Yao expressed doubt over his troubled ankle’s ability to heal well enough for him to extend his career.
“My left foot fracture is the result of a previous injury and relapse last December,” said Yao. ”Due to the set back, I am being conservative about it healing. Actually, I do not dare say I am optimistic right now.”
“I am recovering from the injury step by step. Right now the situation is just as it was at the same period last year when I battled against the last injury. Frankly, I can’t be too optimistic. I just remain patient.”
That sounds like a brutally honest take on the whole situation from a man who has been rather forthcoming over his career when it comes to his various foot and ankle maladies. Yao will be a free agent, and it looks like the upcoming NBA Lockout may help the Rockets and Yao out. With free agency delayed for a bit, that will give Yao more time to get in shape and the Rockets more time to see if they think he can hold up as a backup center.
Either way, this isn’t much removed from most of the rhetoric around Yao for the past couple of months. Yao is facing the most critical offseason of his NBA career, and his ankle still isn’t doing him any favors.