The Rockets used to be a team that tried to get by with inexpensive talent that overachieved, a moneyball sort of approach where talent evaluation was more important than going out and getting proven superstars via trade or free agency.
When that strategy failed somewhat miserably, Plan B kicked into full gear, which meant obtaining superstars at any and all cost.
James Harden and Dwight Howard were able to be obtained, but that still wasn’t enough to put the team into legitimate championship contention. One more star is needed, and there are potentially a couple on the market in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, either of whom would be extremely intriguing alongside the other two in the Houston starting lineup.
For the Rockets to be able to offer even close to a max contract, however, they’ll need to move some existing pieces in order to create that space. Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin are the ones at the top of the list of who would need to go, and supposedly, Houston isn’t worried about being able to trade them without taking any salary back in return.
Addendum on Rox free agency front:I’m told they have moves teed up for necessary Asik/Lin trades but want to keep them if can’t get LBJ/Melo
That’s the logical approach, obviously, because you don’t want to give up legitimate rotation players for nothing unless you know there’s some incoming talent on the horizon.
LeBron seems like a ridiculous long shot, however, and though Anthony’s situation is fluid, there’s no realistic combination of moves Houston can make that would enable the team to offer him a max contract in free agency.
The most interesting thing to note here is that the Rockets already have a potential team (or teams) lined up to unload Lin and Asik, should a high-caliber free agent like James or Anthony come calling. That itself is no small feat, and just further goes to show that Houston’s front office is among the elite at playing this game.
Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry
While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).
Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.
Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis
Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.
Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.
A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.
There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.
The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.