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NBA grants Rockets disabled player exception for Yao

Jan 14, 2011, 7:10 PM EDT

Yao Ming

Here’s the report, courtesy of the Associated Press:

HOUSTON – The NBA has granted a disabled player salary exception to the Houston Rockets in the wake of Yao Ming’s latest season-ending injury.

Yao underwent surgery on Jan. 6 to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle. The disabled player exception allows the Rockets to acquire a free agent, or trade for a player without having to match salaries, up to the value of the midlevel exception (about $5.765 million).

KRIV-TV first reported that the Rockets had been granted the exception. Houston must use it by Jan. 31 or it will expire.

This takes some sting out of losing Yao, and gives the Rockets some financial flexibility at the trade deadline to try and add some desperately needed size and defense. If there is a move to be made with this exception, the Rockets should probably make it sooner rather than later; according to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, the Rockets only have an 18.4% chance of making the playoffs with their current roster.

With Yao’s $17.7 million salary coming off the books at the end of this year, this may be it for the Rockets and Yao. It’s a shame — Yao had the talent and work ethic to bring a championship to Houston. But thanks to his lower body injuries, all Yao can do for the Rockets now is hope his injury exception can help the Rockets find a player who might be able to help Houston sneak into the playoffs.

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