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
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 20, 2014
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.