If you haven't heard yet, the news out of Houston is that Yao Ming is out for the remainder of the season, including playoffs with a stress fracture in his foot. This was breaking news to me since there was no hint of such a big blow for the Rockets. The Rockets, having won 12 straight are sitting in 7th in the West playoff race. Now, even if they do make the playoffs in the deep West, it's gonna be another one-and-out for T-Mac and Houston. I personally think this blow will bounce the 36-20 Rockets out of the playoffs since the West is so good and out of any #1 on those playoff teams, Tracy McGrady is probably the most injury-prone. Losing Yao is big in itself, the prospect of not having T-Mac from time to time makes this team's postseason dreams even more bleak.
From a fantasy perspective, I honestly almost fell out of my chair when I 1st read this this afternoon. I have Yao in one of my leagues and I'm currently in the hunt for the #1 overall seed and a deep run in the playoffs. With this news, needless to say my chances definitely dropped a bit. This was also probably the 1st big season-ending injury of the NBA season. No one with as big a name as Yao has been ruled out for the season yet. I picked up F Jamario Moon from FA after I found out the news, but I'm now down to 1 C-eligible player in that league. Over the next few days, I will be looking at guys like Anderson Varejao (just returning from his long injury), Josh Boone, Darko Milicic (again...) and Mark Blount. Before this injury, I might have been confident going into the playoffs (starting in less than a month), but with this I'm just hoping I can hang onto my top 2 seed and a 1st round bye (2 games behind 1st and 4 games ahead of 3rd). Losing Yao is huge since he was likely your 1st round pick (or early 2nd in my case) and he brings a ton of big man numbers to the table (FG%, FTM, FT%, pts, rebs, blks). It makes winning the title a lot harder, but if you pull it off, which I still plan on doing, it makes it all the sweeter.
This Yao injury also makes me question his durability for next season. It sounds as though Yao plans on returning to basketball just in time for the Beijing Olympic games, but that just scares me even more. Next season, if I'm in a spot at the end of the 1st round/beginning of the 2nd and this 7'6" center is available, he's not gonna be on my team. I will pass on Yao next season for sure unless 11 other people feel the same way and allow him to drop to me in the 3rd round. He's played an average of 55 games/season these past 3 seasons (including this one) and those aren't good numbers by any standards. We're looking at the new Marcus Camby as an offensive center right now, not good company to be in. People questioned Yao's durability at his size coming into the league, now those speculations seem pretty legitimate.
Last season I had something quite similar happen. I lost Gilbert Arenas toward the end of the season just before the fantasy playoffs. I won that league outright, 1st place regular season and postseason. I would even say that losing Gilbert with the season he had last season was a bigger loss than Yao at this point. So if you've lost Yao for the season, don't get too down on your team, find guys on the waivers and try to make up for his loss with more spot starts and activity. It just goes to show that the sporting world is quite unpredictable.