BEIJING » Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is considering quitting basketball after next season if he doesn’t fully recover from his lingering foot injury.
In comments to Chinese state media Monday, Yao sounded far from optimistic about his future and also made a rare criticism of China’s national basketball program.
"If the foot injury does not heal next season, I might choose to call it quits," he said.
Yao turns 30 in September and missed last season following foot surgery. He is set to return to the Rockets after deciding not to opt out of the final year of his contract. Though he has said his recovery was going well, the Rockets have signed 7-foot veteran Brad Miller to share the work at center.
Yao, who was in China for charity events and remains wildly popular in his country, all but ruled out playing in the 2012 London Olympics.
"The chance is very small," the 7-6 center was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. "The foot injury will not allow me to play so many games anymore. Like I said before, I will quit the national team and the sport one day. It’s what happens to every athlete."
Flynn out for 3-4 months
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn might miss the start of the regular season after surgery on his left hip.
The Timberwolves say Flynn underwent successful surgery yesterday in Colorado. The team says typical recovery time is three to four months.
Flynn first was injured in the second-to-last game of last season. He missed the final game of the season and aggravated the injury while working out with the team before summer league play.
Barnes says Kobe sold him on Lakers
When Matt Barnes first texted Kobe Bryant about the possibility of joining the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant surprised him by immediately texting back with emphatic encouragement.
Several dozen texts later, Barnes decided he could postpone his pursuit of a long-term NBA contract to aid Kobe’s chase for yet another championship.
"He said, ‘Anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me,’ " Barnes said with a laugh.
Barnes formally agreed to a one-year, $1.7 million deal with the Lakers yesterday, holding up his gold No. 9 jersey at their training complex.
"It’s been a dream of mine since I was a young kid watching basketball to play with one of the best players ever in the game," Barnes said.
Magic keep coach, GM
The Orlando Magic will put their title hopes into the hands of coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith for a while longer.
The Magic will announce today that Van Gundy and Smith have had their contracts extended through the 2012-13 season. The news was first reported on OrlandoSentinel.com.