After yet another NBA Finals game where LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers teammates failed to show up, there is now more reason than ever for James to look elsewhere this summer. One of the teams expected to be in the running for his talents are the Houston Rockets. But in order for that to happen, major changes would need to take place, and the question has to be raised: would it even be worth it?
ESPN NBA Front Office Insider Bobby Marks broke down the complications of the move, pointing out the only way the Rockets would be able to add LeBron without gutting the roster would be if he opted in and was traded to the team a la Chris Paul last summer. In all likelihood, that can’t happen as Houston has nothing to offer Cleveland and doesn’t even own a first-round pick this year.
In order to bring in LeBron — if he chose Houston — the Rockets would have to reshape their entire roster. According to Marks, next year’s roster would be built around LeBron, James Harden, Chris Paul (“on a major discount”), Clint Capela (restricted free agent), and minimum contracts along with a $4.4 million room exception.
Translation: The Houston Rockets need to be crossed off LeBron James’ list.
Barring any magic performed by Daryl Morey, it makes no sense for either side to start this relationship.
For LeBron, the two most appealing things about the Rockets would be playing with his good friend Chris Paul and the increased chance of winning a championship.
The latter may not increase his chances all that much. Joining a team in the West, that has no bench, and with three players he does not fit with will not put him much closer to a title. With Houston unable to surround its star players with viable depth, it would mean the team is at least a year away from a championship. This comes as both Boston and Philadelphia are ramping up to challenge Golden State.
Even if James felt that depth was a small issue, and the team’s “big four” would be good enough, is that even true? The fit seems to be odd.
James Harden’s constant iso play and inability to shine brightly in the biggest moments would undoubtedly become a massive migraine for James. Clint Capela also doesn’t really fit with LeBron’s game. Big men alongside LeBron have been forced to become shooters and that isn’t happening with Capela. Paul and LeBron could become a reenactment of the last time LeBron joined a member of the Banana Boat crew.
In Miami, LeBron joined one of his best friends but he was always hurt … hmm.
Turning down LeBron would not be a easy for Houston, but it does not make much sense for them, to add him. Houston showed it could go toe-to-toe with the Warriors this year. And, may have closed the deal if Paul didn’t get hurt.
This year’s iteration of the Rockets earned another year to dethrone the monster. If Houston blows this team up and doesn’t win a championship in the next two years, it will always ponder the daunting “if.” The move for this offseason is to find complementary pieces to Harden and Paul, not make them the complementary pieces.
The rumors that LeBron James has Houston on his mind has been out there since March and he hasn’t denied it. He may be interested, but James is known for calculated decisions, and the Rockets should be crossed off the list.
“And then there were three … “