Yao Ming

NBA grants Rockets disabled player exception for Yao

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Here’s the report, courtesy of the Associated Press:

HOUSTON – The NBA has granted a disabled player salary exception to the Houston Rockets in the wake of Yao Ming’s latest season-ending injury.

Yao underwent surgery on Jan. 6 to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle. The disabled player exception allows the Rockets to acquire a free agent, or trade for a player without having to match salaries, up to the value of the midlevel exception (about $5.765 million).

KRIV-TV first reported that the Rockets had been granted the exception. Houston must use it by Jan. 31 or it will expire.

This takes some sting out of losing Yao, and gives the Rockets some financial flexibility at the trade deadline to try and add some desperately needed size and defense. If there is a move to be made with this exception, the Rockets should probably make it sooner rather than later; according to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, the Rockets only have an 18.4% chance of making the playoffs with their current roster.

With Yao’s $17.7 million salary coming off the books at the end of this year, this may be it for the Rockets and Yao. It’s a shame — Yao had the talent and work ethic to bring a championship to Houston. But thanks to his lower body injuries, all Yao can do for the Rockets now is hope his injury exception can help the Rockets find a player who might be able to help Houston sneak into the playoffs.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.