It’s been a rough couple of years for Yao Ming, who has played in only five games since the 2008-09 season, will miss at least the rest of this season with an injury, and may or may not be contemplating retirement after the latest devastating setback to his once-promising career.
The 30-year old Yao, who was considered Houston’s franchise player not long ago, may not have much of a future with the Rockets, who have remade themselves into a run-and-gun team in Yao’s absence. However, even if Houston doesn’t have much interest in offering Yao a new contract, there may be at least one other team willing to take a risk on Yao. Here’s the report, courtesy of Yahoo!’s Marc Spears:
Don’t be surprised if the Warriors make a run at injured Houston Rockets center Yao Ming(notes) after he becomes a free agent this summer.
While Yao is expected to be out as long as 10 months after undergoing ankle surgery, the Warriors have long wanted to add him to help boost their profile in the area’s Asian community. Seldom-used rookie guard Jeremy Lin is nearly as popular as Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. The Warriors would jump at signing Yao for a reasonable price.
Signing Yao would obviously make sense from a business standpoint — I actually went to Yao’s first regular-season game in Oakland (which was officially “Yao Ming Night,”) — the place was packed, and the excitement in the arena was palpable. Whether or not Yao would make basketball sense for the Warriors is debateable — the Warriors play almost as “fast” as the Rockets do, and they have long-term commitments to both Ekpe Udoh and Andris Biedrins.
Yao’s ability to defend the rim could help the Warriors’ abysmal defense, and his ability to score inside could add another dimension to the Warriors’ perimeter-centric offense, but Yao was slow as molasses before his recent run of surgeries — how will he possibly keep up with the breakneck pace his Warrior teammates like to play at? Yao Ming is more than just an interesting figure or a great story; he’s a great basketball player when he’s healthy. If the Warriors do decide to make him an offer, they should make sure they have the right personnel to put around him, even if Yao only plays 15-20 minutes per game in the early going.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.