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.