It’s thought that the best way to matchup with the star-laden teams atop the NBA is to add another star. Yet, James Harden already said (via Adam Wexler, CSN Houston) that he does not feel the team should add a third max-contract superstar. This is a direct condemnation of the choice to pursue New York Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony.
1) The main issue with a Harden-Anthony tandem is usage.
Both are players who require the ball often in isolation to be most effective. Having two ball stoppers in an offense can be crippling.
More to the point, Dwight Howard would find himself with very few touches, and when D12 isn’t involved offensively, he mentally checks out of the game. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which the rock could be evenly shared among a Harden-Anthony-Howard lineup. Someone would always be in the want for more shots.
2) The power forward spot is still a weak point defensively.
Carmelo Anthony would likely see a lot of time at both forward spots in Houston’s lineup, but the Rockets still don’t have a good post defender at the 4-spot. Terrence Jones is too thin. Anthony is not known for his defense. The same problems that were encountered with LaMarcus Aldridge would be continually re-realized with Anthony and Jones defending premier power forwards. With Blake Griffin, Aldridge and (at this point) Kevin Love all in the West, it is prudent to acquire a power forward who can help control their respective damages.
3) Depth would be sacrificed.
The Rockets lacked depth this season. Adding another max star only perpetuates and worsens this issue. The team would be far better suited to build a strong rotation. The Spurs are proving the value of being able to go 10-11 deep. No starter played more than 32 minutes per game, and that was Tony Parker. All others saw less than 30. While James Harden will always see 34+ minutes per night, it doesn’t need to be 38 per game like it was in 2013-14.
4) Chemistry, who can explain it?
Chemistry can’t just be captured in a bottle. The Rockets came together and flourished as a unit offensively in 2013-14. There’s a good chance that adding another big mouth to feed just completely blows that out of the water. There is the argument that the risk could be worth the reward, but the furthest Carmelo Anthony has made it in his career is the Conference Finals with Denver.
There’s simply not much evidence to suggest that the Rockets could get any further with Melo aboard. In fact, the one time he was paired with another megastar in Allen Iverson, the Nuggets tandem failed to ever advance past the first round.
It’s difficult to imagine a team that can flourish with two isolation talents. Part of what has driven the Miami Heat’s success is LeBron James’ ability to facilitate for Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade so often.