Yao Ming: former Rockets center Zhou can't play in this CBA season

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Yao also responded to questions about the expansion of CBA.

"The pre-registration is for overseas players to join CBA in the middle of the season, but Zhou is not pre-registered," Yao said in a media salon of the 2018-19 CBA All-Stars Weekend.

Zhou, a key member of the Chinese national team, led the Xinjiang Flying Tigers to their first ever CBA title in 2016-17 season when he was named Defensive Player of the Year. In July 2017, He joined the Rockets.

"According to the rule, Zhou can't play in this CBA season, unless the rule is changed," the former Houston Rockets star center added.

"The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held in China, and it's known that players can only keep great form in games, we really feel entangled." Yao said, "This is a conflict, but we must obey the rule."

Rumors said Zhou had already signed a four-year contract with defending champions Liaoning, but the club denied.

QINGDAO, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Yao Ming, the president of Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), clarified here on Saturday that there was no special way for Zhou Qi to play in this season's CBA league.

Zhou, who was waived by the Houston Rockets last month and has come back to China. Several top CBA teams have showed their interests to sign the former CBA all-star center.

"If more teams were included in CBA, there will be longer season and the training of the national team will be affected," Yao said. "However The possibility is open, and we will work on it step by step."