Yaouch: Yao likely out for the season

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On Friday, Yao Ming decided to have major surgery on his left foot, which most likely signals the premature end of the 2009-10 NBA season.  The surgery is similar to the one Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a while back.  Yao is slated to go under the knife next week.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise since this was the expected outcome for a while now.  There is speculation that the injury-plagued Yao, 28, may be planning an early retirement from professional basketball, especially after the purchase of his former basketball club, the Shanghai Sharks.  However, he insists that he will return to the NBA when he can.

From a fantasy perspective, this is big news.  Yao, when healthy, is easily the most valuable pure center in the league, fantasy-wise.  With centers already a rarity, fantasy leagues will likely see more reaching for centers than usual in this year’s draft.

For the Houston Rockets this news spells big trouble.  When you look at their current roster, it looks like the 6-foot-6 power forward Chuck Hayes will likely have to step in and command some major minutes in the center position, where he’ll be vastly undersized.  The 6-foot-7 Carl Landry and the 6-foot-9 Luis Scola, both forwards, will have to help out as well.

The Rockets, in anticipation of Yao’s absence, acquired the rights to Australian big man David Andersen on Wednesday.  Andersen, 29, will be helpful if only because he’s 6-foot-11.  He averaged 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds with Regal FC Barcelona during the 2008-09 season.  Those aren’t stunning numbers, and Andersen probably won’t see huge minutes right away, but at least the Rockets have someone tall to stick in at center from time to time.

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