NBA Grants Injury Exception For Yao

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HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Rockets are still hoping Yao Ming returns next season, but they have been able to cash in on his injury.

The Rockets applied for a disabled player exception from the NBA a few weeks ago, betting that their All-Star center will miss next season with a hairline fracture in his left foot.

The NBA agreed that Yao's return is unlikely, freeing up about $5.7 million that the Rockets used to sign free agent Trevor Ariza from the Lakers.

General manager Daryl Morey says the league's approval does not rule out Yao's return this season.

Yao is still consulting with doctors and deciding on treatment.