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Warriors could have interest in signing Yao Ming

Jan 7, 2011, 5:54 PM EDT

Yao Ming

It’s been a rough couple of years for Yao Ming, who has played in only five games since the 2008-09 season, will miss at least the rest of this season with an injury, and may or may not be contemplating retirement after the latest devastating setback to his once-promising career.

The 30-year old Yao, who was considered Houston’s franchise player not long ago, may not have much of a future with the Rockets, who have remade themselves into a run-and-gun team in Yao’s absence. However, even if Houston doesn’t have much interest in offering Yao a new contract, there may be at least one other team willing to take a risk on Yao. Here’s the report, courtesy of Yahoo!’s Marc Spears:

Don’t be surprised if the Warriors make a run at injured Houston Rockets center Yao Ming(notes) after he becomes a free agent this summer.

While Yao is expected to be out as long as 10 months after undergoing ankle surgery, the Warriors have long wanted to add him to help boost their profile in the area’s Asian community. Seldom-used rookie guard Jeremy Lin is nearly as popular as Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. The Warriors would jump at signing Yao for a reasonable price.

Signing Yao would obviously make sense from a business standpoint — I actually went to Yao’s first regular-season game in Oakland (which was officially “Yao Ming Night,”) — the place was packed, and the excitement in the arena was palpable. Whether or not Yao would make basketball sense for the Warriors is debateable — the Warriors play almost as “fast” as the Rockets do, and they have long-term commitments to both Ekpe Udoh and Andris Biedrins.

Yao’s ability to defend the rim could help the Warriors’ abysmal defense, and his ability to score inside could add another dimension to the Warriors’ perimeter-centric offense, but Yao was slow as molasses before his recent run of surgeries — how will he possibly keep up with the breakneck pace his Warrior teammates like to play at? Yao Ming is more than just an interesting figure or a great story; he’s a great basketball player when he’s healthy. If the Warriors do decide to make him an offer, they should make sure they have the right personnel to put around him, even if Yao only plays 15-20 minutes per game in the early going.

 

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