by Marcel Mutoni

The news, though not entirely shocking (all things considered), hit Rockets fans like a punch to the gut. The reality is as follows: Yao Ming’s career could be done, or at the very least, gravely affected. So, now what?

Well, you begin to plan for a future whose only certainty is its unpredictability. The lone consolation, as the Houston Chronicle details, may be that the Rockets are in fine position to make noise some time down the line:

If you’re looking for good news, this is it. No team is better positioned to withstand the loss of a Yao Ming than the Rockets.They may not have a single major contract obligation after next season when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Bosh and other premier players are set to be free agents.

Keeping that financial flexibility suddenly is [GM Daryl] Morey’s first priority during a nightmarish offseason. If he can trade for a player worth a long-term investment, he’ll do it. Otherwise, we’ll see a small, fast, scrappy team next season…They’ve got a good, young nucleus of players, and a year from now, they’ll have the money to make an impact acquisition. On a sad, confusing, frustrating day, those things will have to be enough.

Those are not exactly the kind of words that get a fanbase fired up for an upcoming season.

For Rockets supporters — people who have by now grown accustomed to all kinds of heartbreak — that’s as good as it gets. Alas.