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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Severity of injury has Yao's career in doubt

HOUSTON (AP) Houston Rockets center Yao Ming's broken left foot could be a "career-threatening" injury.

Dr. Tom Clanton, the Houston Rockets' team physician, told the Houston Chronicle on Monday that Yao's injury "has the potential for him missing this next season and could be career-threatening."

Yahoo Sports first reported the Rockets and Yao's representatives were concerned the 229-cm All-Star would never play again. Yahoo Sports quoted "multiple league executives, officials close to Yao and two doctors with knowledge of the diagnoses."

Yao suffered a hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone late in a May 8 playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The team said last week the injury hasn't healed and he was out indefinitely.

Yao played in 77 regular-season games in 2008-09, his most injury-free year since 2004-05, when he played in 80. Before last season, Yao missed chunks of the previous three seasons with leg and foot injuries.

He missed 21 games in 2005-06 after surgery to heal an infection to his left big toe, then broke a bone in his left foot with four games left in the regular season.

In 2006-07, Yao missed 32 games after breaking his right leg and he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in 2007-08, underwent surgery and sat out 26 games.

Yao hurried back from that foot injury to represent China in the Beijing Games. He made it through the Rockets' season and the first round of the playoffs before breaking his left foot late in the Rockets' 108-94 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the second round.

Two days later, Yao said he didn't believe the injury was as serious as any of his previous ones. The Rockets said he would miss only 8-12 weeks.

But last week, the team said Yao would undergo additional tests and consult with other doctors to map out a new course of treatment.

Yao is due to make over $16 million next season with a player option for 2010-11 that would pay him over $17 million. He was the top overall pick by the Rockets in the 2002 draft.

Rubio in demand

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Four days after Ricky Rubio was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, it appears that the teenage Spanish sensation has become the most wanted man in the NBA.

Executives across the league are flooding Timberwolves president David Kahn's office with calls offering trades to bring Rubio's slick passing skills and moptop hairstyle to their cities. In the Twin Cities, fans can't wait to see the highlight factory zipping behind-the-back feeds to Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.

But Rubio's availability for the upcoming season has been cast into doubt by a $6.6 million buyout of his contract with DKV Joventut in Spain. His agent, Dan Fegan, is trying to negotiate that number down to ease the financial burden on his client, and there is some question as to whether Rubio wants to play in the relatively small Minnesota market.

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