Must have missed the latest addition to Roget's Thesaurus. Apparently, the word "unknown" is now synonymous with "Going to Cleveland." Stupid dysfunctional e-mail alerts.
Oh, Lord. He must be packed and ready to go. You can tell by the excitement in his response.
Yao did what he was supposed to do. He answered a question without really answering it. That's how you treat rumors like this. While each and every one of us would have liked to hear Yao downplay the speculation or describe its absurdity, The Great Wall has ties to both parties - to his own team and to his fellow countrymen in Cleveland.
For Yao to anger either side would be an unnecessary action. Yao did not say "yes" to anyone, nor did he say "no" to anyone. He instead stated the obvious, that the situation is unknown.
Though devoted to the Rockets, Yao is currently China's national hero. Prominent businessmen from his country are now trying to build up a Chinese fanbase in Cleveland. He will have two primary options come June, 2010. That is a whole year from now. By next December, this could either blow up into a disturbing situation for Houston, or it could wash away in the wake of another stellar regular season by Yao's current team. And even then, there would be six more months left for things to further change.
By the way, the Rockets have a say in this too. Nothing has altered our desired course. We want Yao to stay, and we are going to pay him a lot of money. I'd be shocked if we didn't make him the largest offer of anyone come next summer. Les will open up the wallet, and not just because of Yao's on-court play, but because Yao brings with him a billion, jersey-buying international fans and a dozen Chinese sponorship deals.
We're way too far ahead of this, people. Go back to talking about Tracy McGrady - his ultimatum is only seven months away.