Rockets can’t keep Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons and give Chris Bosh max contract

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Chris Bosh wants he and LeBron James to re-sign with the Heat.

But considering LeBron left his meeting with Pat Riley today without committing to Miami, there’s no guarantee Bosh will have that option. So, the Rockets are trying to poach the power forward, reportedly offering him a max contract.

One problem: Houston can’t easily clear max cap space for Bosh.

As soon as Chandler Parsons officially signs his offer sheet with the Mavericks, the Rockets will have 72 hours to act. If they match Dallas’ offer, Parsons’ cap hold ($2,875,130) will immediately be replaced on the books by his 2014-15 salary, which is at or near the max ($14,746,000).

Obviously, Houston wants to delay that as long as possible. Signing Bosh first with cap space first and then exceeding the cap to re-sign Parsons – something possible only as long as his cap hold remains on the books – is the Rockets’ ideal plan.

However, even if the roster is stripped to just Dwight Howard, James Harden and Parsons’ cap hold, Houston still couldn’t offer Bosh a max contract.

The Rockets could come close, offering $83,088,781 over four years. Bosh’s max with Houston is $88,151,588 over four years.

Maybe Bosh doesn’t care about that $5,062,807 difference. If so, more power to him.

However, he was reportedly dismayed by Miami lowballing him. I’m not sure he’s running to Houston on a discount.

And for the Rockets to offer even that much, they’d have to dump several players – including starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. Bosh would replace Jones at power forward, making that departure less of a big deal.

But Jeremy Lin is already ready set to be moved, and if Beverley is gone too, who plays point guard? Without either, Houston is much less appealing.

Bosh could sacrifice more salary – $6,804,570 total over four years – to give the Rockets room to keep Beverley, but again, that makes their offer less appealing.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, Houston could could max out Bosh while keeping Beverley (and one of Omri Casspi, Isaiah Canaan, Robert Covington or Josh Powell or Troy Daniels’ qualifying offer). Once more, the Rockets without a key player – Parsons in this case – are much less appealing.

Does Bosh understand all this?

Maybe.

One of two conflicting reports say Bosh is sold on Houston as his backup option if LeBron leaves the Heat.

Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst of ESPN?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Rockets – and therefore Bosh – will soon be on a 72-hour clock to make this work. But as long as Houston wants to keep its two stars, Howard and Harden, and Parsons, a max offer to Bosh is not possible.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, they could find max cap room for Bosh, but then the timetable wouldn’t matter. There would be no Parsons-related deadline.

Unless Bosh is willing to take less than the max – a possibility – it’s shaking up to be Bosh or Parsons for the Rockets. Or if they gamble wrong and let Parsons walk and LeBron re-signs with the Heat, neither.

It’s just hard to see Houston, again if Bosh truly wants the max, getting both.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant betting odds favorites to win MVP

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Unlike the early projections for the NBA title next season, the MVP race seems wide open.

Russell Westbrook put up ridiculous numbers on his way to the award last season, but now he is going to share the rock with Paul George. James Harden made a legitimate case and would have won most seasons, but now he will have the ball in his hands less with Chris Paul running the show.

Who is going to win? Westbrook and Golden State’s Kevin Durant are the early betting line favorites, with these odds courtesy of online gaming site Bovada.

Russell Westbrook (OKC) 7/2
Kevin Durant (GS) 9/2
Kawhi Leonard (SAN) 13/2
LeBron James (CLE) 15/2
James Harden (HOU) 8/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 17/2
Steph Curry (GS) 11/1
Anthony Davis (NOP) 16/1
Paul George (OKC) 25/1
Chris Paul (HOU) 25/1
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 25/1
DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 33/1
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 33/1
John Wall (WAS) 33/1
Blake Griffin (LAC) 40/1
Nikola Jokic (DEN) 40/1
DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 50/1
Joel Embiid (PHI) 50/1
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 50/1
Damian Lillard (POR) 50/1
Draymond Green (GS) 60/1
Ben Simmons (PHI) 66/1
Gordon Hayward (BOS) 70/1
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 75/1
Jimmy Butler (MIN) 75/1
Andrew Wiggins (MIN) 75/1
Kevin Love (CLE) 100/1
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 100/1
Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 100/1

Yes, it is far too early to discuss this. As a voter, I don’t even start to make a list of serious candidates until midway through the season (then that list evolves as the season wears on). But it’s fun to speculate about.

To me, the smartest bet on the board seems to be Kawhi Leonard — he could have won last year, and if anything the Spurs are going to ask more of him this season. I think Harden has a chance to win it this season even with CP3, same with Westbrook, but it feels less likely. It’s hard to imagine one Warrior being picked above the others for the award. If Giannis Antetokounmpo finds his jumper it could happen, but that feels more like something a couple seasons away. Same with Karl-Anthony Towns being in consideration.

If you’re going to bet on Kevin Love, just donate that money to charity where it will do some good.

If Jeff Hornacek doesn’t work out with Knicks, is David Blatt next in line?

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It’s not fair to judge Jeff Hornacek of his first season as coach of the New York Knicks. Phil Jackson made some poor roster decisions — don’t hire a coach that likes to play fast then go sign Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — and then there was the on again, off again, on again triangle offense looming over everything.

This season Hornacek will sink or swim on his own terms, and his ability to develop Kristaps Porzingis into a true franchise cornerstone and put Tim Hardaway Jr. and other young players in good positions around them.

If not, is former Cavaliers coach David Blatt lurking? Frank Isola of the New York Daily News says it’s something to watch.

Blatt, who has enjoyed tremendous success abroad, owns an impressive resume. No question about it. But you know the old saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And Blatt has connections with people in high places inside the Knicks front office, namely team president Steve Mills and newly hired front office executive Craig Robinson…

Mills is going to give Hornacek every opportunity to succeed in New York but Mills, who is said to have strong opinions about how the team should be coached, also wants to see results. That begins with Hornacek repairing his relationship with Kristaps Porzingis, who did not connect with the head coach last season and ultimately skipped his exit meeting with Jackson, Hornacek and Mills in April.

Repairing that relationship with Porzingis is crucial. We’ll see if Hornacek can do that and get this team moving in the right direction.

Blatt wants to return to the NBA, but his he the guy to connect with Porzingis? Blatt’s problems in Cleveland had far less to do with Xs and Os than it did relationships with players — Blatt was saying he wanted to team to play faster long before Tyronn Lue said that when he took over, but Lue could get players to buy in and listen. Blatt couldn’t. Blatt came in expecting to be handed respect, touting his European resume (that NBA players shrugged at), and demanding deference rather than building partnerships with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Blatt came off as needing to be the smartest guy in the room, always. Basically, Blatt could not handle the player/power dynamic in the NBA (coming out of Europe, where coaches have absolute power, like an American college coach). Has he learned how to deal with it?

Before we get to that question, Hornaced gets his shot. The real test for the Knicks comes after Christmas, when they spend most of a couple of weeks on the road (due to the Grammys coming to Madison Square Garden), it’s a tough couple of weeks, and the team could struggle in that stretch and not recover. Hornacek has to have the team playing well enough, and buying in enough by then, to survive that trip. Do that and he will stick around. If not, the sharks are circling.