Yao return to NBA next season `not ruled out`: Rockets
Houston: Chinese center Yao Ming is progressing well after foot surgery and while a return to court for the Houston Rockets next season remains unlikely, it has not been ruled out, the NBA team`s general manager said.
The hairline fracture to his left foot is the latest in a string of injuries to the 7ft-6in (2.28m) Yao and was described as "career-threatening" by the team doctor with the Rockets saying it would definitely rule him out for the 2009/10 season.
However, the 28-year-old underwent surgery on the fracture in Houston in July and Daryl Morey said the prognosis was positive.
"Yao Ming is progressing well," he told a leading sports channel. "I don`t think that (the end of career) is something that will happen, based on what I`m hearing from the doctors.”
"They do know that the bone will heal and he`ll get back on it. And they have not actually ruled out this season. I think that`s less likely than likely, but they haven`t ruled it out.”
"And next season, the outlook is very good. He just took off the cast for a short period (two weeks ago), so the doctors could examine it, and everything is going well. Everything is on track."
Yao fractured his foot during the Western Conference semi-finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on May 8 and the operation to repair it also included procedures to "change the alignment of his foot" and prevent the injury recurring.
The Shanghainese is China`s most popular sportsman and topped the most recent Forbes China list of entertainers with an estimated income of 357 million yuan (USD 52.27 million).
Seven-times an All Star, Yao has averaged 19.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game since joining the Rockets in 2002. The 2009/10 NBA season starts on Oct. 29.