A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Are the Houston Rockets a Lebron James darkhorse?

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Last week Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne posted a Lebron to the Clippers possibility article. While it would take significant trades for the Clippers to get the capspace, the logic of the idea seemed to be Lebron isn’t leaving without a fantastic situation to join, thus the Clippers are more likely than a Lakers or Cavaliers even if in less easy cap position to do it.

Let me throw out another name: The Houston Rockets. First off, the Rockets finding the capspace to sign Lebron straight out is not hard to envision. It’d take simply moving Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik off next year’s books to create near-maximum capspace. If for some reason finding a taker for those talented players is not simple, the Rockets have other assets to sweeten the deal such as Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverly, draft picks, etc. And of course even if it came down to it, if it took packaging even Chandler Parsons in a deal to create capspace for Lebron to join James Harden and Dwight Howard, well the choice there is simple. When added to the likelihood somebody would want Lin or Asik anyways, the Rockets should have little obstacles putting themselves in Lebron-signing position if he wanted it.

The question thus is whether Lebron would sign there. The incentive is clear. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are heading into their 11th seasons next year, Wade’s body is a physical mess. Even if the team makes it to the Finals for the 4th straight year, how many years do these guys have left where they can contend? Not to mention Lebron is aging himself and increasingly carrying the team wouldn’t help.

But Houston is an amazingly cushy situation for the last third of Lebron’s career. Along with finally playing with a star center and defensive anchor in Dwight Howard, James Harden who isn’t turning 25 until this summer, could be in his prime until the day Lebron retires. Lebron could age gracefully like Tim Duncan slowly conceding to Tony Parker as the offensive star of the team, or Kareem to Magic Johnson. He would become more playmaker and defender than league leading scorer, blending in with his star teammates. And if the Rockets managed to sign Lebron while keeping Chandler Parsons, Parsons could be a nice fit stretching the floor for his star teammates, either starting beside Lebron at SF-PF or as a 6th man of the year candidate.

The big carrot naturally is the number 6: That is, Michael Jordan’s 6 titles. If staying in Miami the rest of his career, it’s hard to imagine him getting there with the age and physical/mental fatigue of the core. In Houston or following the Clippers idea, it’s game on. The Rockets could easily get the 3 or 4 titles needed to catch Jordan, even if the last 1 or 2 is with a well aged Lebron. If Lebron wants to go down with an all time title reign, jumping to a team like Rockets or Clippers are a better bet than the Heat, but especially the Rockets with how smoothly Lebron, Harden and Dwight would fit on both ends compared to Paul, Lebron and Griffin, a more offense-first trio. That’s why if they move Lin and Asik’s contracts which they would be wise to do just for the shot at Lebron, the Rockets become the most compelling Lebron destination.

Written by jr.

February 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

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