Insomnia does have its benefits.
Awaiting news throughout the night, the Rockets got word from China early this morning that an agreement between Yao Ming and the CBA has been reached, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Yao and his representation coming to an agreement with the Chinese Basketball Association was the final hurdle before the mere formality of FIBA clearance, expected to come via fax.
"The Rockets have had common understandings with us on drafting Yao," said Xin Lancheng, commissioner of the CBA, to the Xinhua News Agency. "It (the FIBA clearance letter) is not necessary at the moment."
If you're pro-Yao, you can thank the Rockets. They sealed this deal with two letters that pledged support for Yao's intentions to play for the Chinese National Team, while the CBA returned a written letter assuring the Rockets Yao would be available for the regular season and playoffs. These are the "common understandings" Xin is referring to.
This makes the #1 pick a virtual lock: Chicago, you're on the clock.
What would the Rockets have done without said clearance? Again, don't buy the hype: The Rockets were taking Yao (that was all but a lock a few days ago), they just would have recognized it as being a bigger risk. But the 7-foot-5 center is and always was the one for the Rockets, and it would have taken much bigger snags than this to turn their back on all the groundwork they laid for this deal.
One other thing that you might want to know: Yao's Rocket jersey will say "YAO" on the back, not "MING". No word yet as to what number it will be however.
Regarding #15, not much new info, but some trickled in that made it apparent the Rockets probably won't be taking a power forward in this draft regardless of who is available (Amare Stoudemire?). I think you will see the Rockets trade the pick or take the best available three.