Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will not play more than 24 minutes a game next season in an attempt to limit stress on his bones, Rockets vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones told the Houston Chronicle.
Under the plan, Yao will be strictly limited to 24 minutes, and he will even sit during crucial final-second possessions if he has passed the mark. If Yao plays fewer than 24 minutes one night, he will not be allowed more time in a later game.
"Twenty-four is his number all year," Jones told the newspaper. "Playoffs come, things could change. We're trying to get him through April. We're trying to give him the best chance to play the whole season by limiting stress. Even practices, if we play on Monday and play again on Wednesday, can he practice on Tuesday? No. He'll practice, but he won't scrimmage."
Yao has missed at least part of each of the past five seasons because of bone-related injuries. Yao sat out last season after undergoing complex surgery on his left foot in July 2009. Team doctor Tom Clanton cleared Yao to resume basketball activities in August.
Yao also is likely to miss the second of games played on back-to-back nights, though that policy may change.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and coach Rick Adelman agreed to the plan and pledged not to fight the training staff over Yao's playing time.
The Rockets open training camp on Sept. 25. They will travel to China in mid-October for two preseason games against New Jersey.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.