Yao Ming in talks to buy team

NBA star looks to purchase former team from SMG

BEIJING -- Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is negotiating the possible purchase of his former club Shanghai Sharks, who are facing an uncertain future after running into financial difficulties, local media reported on Wednesday.

Yao's management team were currently conducting talks with the Shanghai Sports Bureau and the state-owned Shanghai Media Group, the club's major shareholder, Sharks coach Li Qiuping told Beijing News.

"If Yao takes over, it would definitely be great," he said.

Last month, the Chinese Basketball Association announced that the domestic league lost 115 million yuan ($16.83 million) and Shanghai was among the clubs that faced the prospect of being unable to reach the CBA's entry requirement next year.

Since the withdrawal of their main sponsor earlier this year, the Sharks have fallen into financial difficulties, forcing SMG to put the club up for sale.

"Talks are still ongoing and the process will take some time," Sharks general manager Zhang Zhengming said.

"At the moment there are many prospective buyers so we need to evaluate them all."

Yao started playing for the Sharks in 1997 and lead the team to the CBA champions in 2002 before he was selected by the Rockets as number one pick in that year's NBA Draft.