Go ahead and cross the big seven foot Chinese dude off your list of free agent hopefuls for your favorite team. Yao Ming isn't going anywhere. Fox 26 Sports in Houston is reporting that Yao Ming will not opt-out for the last year of his contract with the Houston Rockets, a report that is confirmed by General Manager Daryl Morey via Twitter .
Ming's decision was probably equal parts loyalty and realism. Coming off a year that he missed entirely with yet another foot injury (Ming hasn't played since the 2009 playoffs), his value was likely to be downgraded, especially in a year with so many other stars available. But Ming has always been loyal to the club that drafted him, and with the success the Rockets had nearly making the playoffs without him, he has to feel good about making another run with them. Morey is finally getting out from under the yoke of Tracy McGrady's contract and will be able to continue wheeling and dealing.
The Rockets lineup next year, provided they re-sign Luis Scola, is pretty impressive. Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Yao Ming, with Shane Battier, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Patrick Patterson off the bench. Those stretch fours are going to benefit the most from Ming, who will cause doubles and enable them to create space for open mid-range shots, which most can hit.
The Rockets will also still have assets they can move in a trade, and Morey has shown he's never willing to be content. The Rockets have been near the top of the league during his reign and have really only faltered on account of injury. If Ming comes back healthy (as unreliable a prospect as that is), Houston could be right back in the mix of contenders in 2010-2011.
Funny what a seven foot tall Chinese dude with incrdible touch and length can do for you, huh?