HOUSTON, Texas -- The NBA has reportedly granted the Rockets a medical/disabled player exception for center Yao Ming.
The 30-year-old Yao had a season-ending procedure done to repair a stress fracture of the medial malleolus in his left ankle on January 6.
The disabled player exception, granted to the Rockets per a report in the Houston Chronicle, will allow the team to either acquire a free agent or trade for a player that matches up to the mid-level player exception, which ranges to about $5.7 million. Houston has until January 31 to use the exception or it will expire.
The Rockets were granted the same exception after the 7-foot-6 center missed all of last season with a broken foot. Houston used the exception to acquire forward Trevor Ariza, which it later traded to New Orleans in the offseason.
Yao, the top overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by Houston, played in only five games this season and averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in just over 18 minutes per game.
The seven-time All-Star's career has been marred by injuries. He has missed significant time in four of his seasons, in addition to sitting out of the 2009-10 campaign.
Over 486 career games, Yao has posted per-game averages of 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in 32.5 minutes of action.