I hate to say it, but 'Sheed could help Houston. For the right price, this should be the Rockets next move.
By now, I am sure every NBA fan has read at least one story about Yao Ming's foot.
Yes, the sports world recently acquired foot fetish has created quite the buzz (or buzz kill if you are a Rockets fan). Yao Ming will miss all of next season with a broken left foot. But the story doesn't end there, Ming could be done playing basketball entirely.
Many have claimed the story is being blown out of proportion and this will serve as wake-up call for Yao Ming that his body cant handle the stress of playing in the NBA and for China's national team. I am no doctor, but I am sorry to say this story is not blown out of proportion. Yao Ming could have played his last NBA game.
Being 7-foot-6 comes with a price, and unfortunately Yao is now paying that price. Having superhuman size is a health concern in itself and normally leads to a much shorter life. But when a man that size has a serious break in his foot, it's like a horse that breaks its leg. There is a good chance there is no coming back from it.
It would be a huge loss to the NBA to lose the most gifted player over 7-foot-3 in the history of the league. Yao's gargantuan predecessors George Muresan and Manute Bol played like giants. Both were very uncoordinated and slow. But Yao is quick with a soft touch and can run down the floor like a power forward. While once-in-a-lifetime player gets thrown out a lot, Yao really is an oddity.
My concern for Yao now is that the problems stop at his feet. Gigantism is a pituitary disorder and as stated earlier, can cause not just career-threatening, but life-threatening problems. Former professional wrestlers Andre the Giant and Giant Gonzalez both suffered from gigantism and Andre died in his 50s, while Gonzalez is having serious health issues at 43.
I'm not ready to jump to that severe of a conclusion, but while the selfish part of me wants Yao to get back on the court, I just hope he can get healthy and stay healthy for a long time to come.
But for now Houston has a problem, and it needs to be addressed. Yao Ming is out and Tracy McGrady is out for most of the season. Ron Artest is a free agent. Houston has done a great job managing their cap the last few years and now is time to be even more careful.
Yao! That hurts the bank account
Prior to this foot debacle, Yao having a player option at the end of next season was no problem for Houston. They wanted him to pick up that option and probably would have offered an extension. But now he has an option he will definitely pick up, because after a season on the sidelines, that backloaded deal is a lot better than any sort of money he would get from another team.
So that money is accounted for. Now the Rockets have two realistic options. Artest is a free agent, but with Yao hurt, they should let him walk. Artest is not the cornerstone of a franchise, he is a nice third man. If they signed him, he would be the star and it would never work.
The Rockets would also like to dump McGrady, but they will have to wait until the end of this season when his contract is up. I doubt any team will want to pick up that contract on a perennial injured player.
So now the Rockets either have to use the money they save by letting Artest walk to sign a free agent center this season, or they trade some of the top-notch young players on their bench that have made them so good the last two seasons for a quick fix with Chris Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire.
It's a tough call. Picking up Bosh or Stoudemire would keep them in contention, but they would lose players that could help them for years to come. The team would struggle to stay in competition by signing one of the free agent centers and it would also tie them up financially more than a quick fix.
My best advice: Sign Rasheed Wallace. I know, Rasheed Wallace scares me too. He comes overpriced sometimes and you don't know if he will always show up. But when he does, his post defense is still top-notch and his versatility makes him hard to defend.
The Rockets could make a play for a real pricey big man like Carlos Boozer, but he would be too expensive and is not any sort of answer to replacing a center. Or they could go cheap and sign Marcin Gortat, but Carl Landry would work just as well in that case.
Wallace would be a good move if they could sign him to a 2-year deal with a club option in the third. It would keep the team afloat without crippling them too much financially since McGrady is sure to be gone by the end of the season.
The Rockets front office has the toughest job this offseason. Their next move could make or break this franchise for the next three years.