That's the word from Houston general manager Daryl Morey about 7-foot-6 Yao Ming. He has no doubt the center, out all season following foot surgery, won't opt out of his contract next summer to become a free agent.
"He's very loyal, and he's going to opt in,'' Morey said in an interview Monday night with FanHouse. "He's definitely coming back.''
When asked if Yao has told him specifically he won't opt out of his contract, Morey didn't consider that necessary. Morey said he and Yao regularly have talked about next season.
"He loves Houston and he's very loyal,'' Morey said. "He's coming back. (Next) summer we'll talk about how to integrate him (back with the Rockets).''
Morey said Yao, injured during last May's Western Conference finals against the Lakers, is making fine progress from his July 21 surgery for a fractured left foot. He expects Yao to be fully healthy for next fall's training camp.
"He's doing very well,'' Morey said. "Everything is healing with an operation that was pretty intense. He's ahead of schedule. The smart thing to do is hold him out until next year. ... Everything the doctors are telling us is he'll be available (next season).''
Yao is making $16.38 million this season. Insurance will reimburse the Rockets about $6.7 million of that.
With Yao apparently not a candidate for free agency, attention mostly should focus on three other top players who can opt out of their deals. They are Cleveland's LeBron James, Miami's Dwyane Wade and Toronto's Chris Bosh.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at fanhouse.com or on Twitter @christomasson.