The Houston Rockets are not shy about their aspirations to acquire either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
To sign either of them, Houston would need to make cap space by dumping the salaries of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey found a trade partner for the former Wednesday evening, sending Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans for a future first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The Pelicans will absorb Asik to help clear salary cap space as they chase big-ticket free agents Carmelo Anthony & LeBron James.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 26, 2014
While it certainly doesn’t mean James is taking his talents to Space City, it seems as if every time the Rockets swing for the fences they come up with something.
First, it was landing James Harden when the team desperately needed a post-Yao Ming identity.
Then Morey signed Dwight Howard a year after signing Asik to starter’s money. Asik, then, was the odd man out. Both he and Lin are set to make roughly $8.4 million next season.
So is Houston really an attractive enough spot for LeBron?
The Rockets have two All-Stars in Harden and Howard. But Howard is a space eater who will clog the paint, making getting to the rim more difficult for James.
Harden is as useful on defense as a Walmart greeter, so James would still have to guard the opponent’s best wing scorer.
As for the rest of the roster, Patrick Beverley is a good on-ball defender but not a threat to space the floor, and the team is still unsettled as to what it will do opposite James at power forward.
Aside from personnel, James would also be swapping coach Erik Spoelstra—who spent years establishing a system customized to fit James—for Kevin McHale, who stays up at night wondering if he will ever be able to teach Dwight a post move.
The more likely option for the Rockets, and far better fit, is Anthony. He’ll space the floor for Houston and doesn’t rely on getting to the rim. Sure, the perimeter defense would be horrible, but that’s why they have Howard.
The Asik trade will cause ripples around the NBA, but don’t fret Heat fans, it doesn’t mean LeBron is gone. It might mean, though, that your Melo “pipe dream” is over.