The Houston Rockets were expected to be interested in Orlando Magic backup center Marcin Gortat even before it was announced that Yao Ming could miss significant time with the stress fracture in his foot.
However, given Yao's recent uncertain prognosis, the Rockets' necessity to add a player like Gortat has been kicked into overdrive.
Gortat (25 years old, 6'11", 240 pounds) is a restricted free agent, but a team willing to sign him can drive up the first-year cost of the player, which would make it very, very difficult for a cash-strapped team like Orlando to match.
Gortat jumped onto many teams' radars last season as Dwight Howard's backup.
Though he only played about 12 minutes a game and averaged a little over three points and four rebounds, Gortat is considered to be a promising enough prospect for teams to gamble on this summer.
Gortat is a high-energy, team-first player with strong shot-blocking ability that fits the mold of these Rockets perfectly.
The Rockets should be a very appealing option for Gortat.
Even with a healthy Yao going into next season, Gortat would see his floor time increase significantly, as it should absolutely be in the best interest of the Rockets to keep Yao's minutes down as much as possible in order to try and preserve his health.
Houston is a winning organization with one of the most well-respected coaches in the league, Rick Adelman.
Given Yao's situation, it seems very likely that, should Gortat choose to sign with the Rockets, he would be the team's starting center going into next season.
Yao also has the option to become a free agent after next season, meaning that there is potential for Gortat to occupy the starting center spot for Houston for years to come.
Rockets' GM Daryl Morey announced via his Twitter account that he is scheduled to meet with Gortat sometime this afternoon.
I believe Gortat in a Rockets uniform would be a perfect match for all parties involved, and hopefully there is real interest on both sides of the equation.