The Houston Rockets said that Yao Ming's recovery from a broken foot was behind schedule as the setback might cost him entire season.
Yao suffered a hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone of his left foot in the Rockets' second-round playoff loss to the Lakers on May 8. The team initially said Yao would miss eight to 12 weeks, but a bone scan last week revealed that the fracture was not healing properly.
"He has no tenderness, no swelling, no redness," team physician Tom Clanton said. "When he came back in, he was feeling like everything was perfect, and he would start rehabilitation and get ready to play. The findings on the CT were shocking for him and for us."
Yao missed 21 games in 2005-06 because of an infection in his left big toe, then broke a bone in his left foot in April. He broke his right leg in the 2006-07 season and sat out 32 games, then suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in 2007-08 and missed the playoffs.
He played in 77 games last season before injuring the same troublesome foot again in Game 3 against the Lakers.
Yao is due to make over 16 million dollars next season with a player option for 2010-11 that would pay him over 17 million. The injury should be career threatening.
"I don't think that is necessarily a longshot," Clanton said, according to the newspaper. "It may be best to take more time. Sometimes that is the best option." He hopes the fracture heals on its own rather than additional surgery.
"We are not going to comment," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said, "until we have all the facts."
(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2009)