This one might be a long shot, but lets consider it. What if LeBron James came to the Houston Rockets next summer?
This past summer was arguable the most unpredictable offseason in NBA history. Sure, the Houston Rockets scored big with the acquisition of Chris Paul, but there were plenty of teams that made a lot of big moves.
Carmelo Anthony was finally able to escape from what turned into a nightmare in New York. Now he’s teamed up with Russell Westbrook and the newly acquired Paul George in Oklahoma City to challenge the best in the West.
Jimmy Butler was traded to the Timberwolves, headlining a migration of talent leaving the East and heading West. This group includes the aforementioned Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, as well as Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo.
Of course, the biggest blockbuster trade of the summer was Cleveland sending Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and that coveted Brooklyn first-round pick. Irving sent shock waves throughout the NBA community when he requested a trade from Cleveland. Irving was ready to be the face of his own franchise and escape the looming shadow of LeBron James.
Speaking of LeBron James, he headlines a 2018 free agency class that houses the likes of Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas.
The LeBron to L.A. rumors have dominated the headlines all summer long, but ESPN’s Zach Lowe said that Houston is a destination that should be considered.
“Maybe we should take the Houston threat more seriously. Harden is locked up. Paul is there. Getting off Eric Gordon is easy. Snag a pick in the process, and dumping the Ryan Anderson albatross — the one that cost them the official Team Banana Boat photographer — becomes feasible. Trade and renounce everyone else, including potentially Paul for cap purposes, and they are close enough to the double-max for Paul and LeBron that the Texas income tax edge might come into play.
Sound crazy? So did everything that happened this summer. The league’s best players have the clout to make anything happen.
(I have no idea where LeBron is going. Nobody does.)”
What if LeBron James came to Houston?
Like Lowe said, no one knows what LeBron will do next summer, and that group probably includes LeBron himself. But it’s both fun and important to consider the possibility of LeBron coming to Houston, because it could change the entire NBA landscape.
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As he mentioned, if the Rockets could dump Ryan Anderson’s $20 million salary and unload Gordon, they could make room for LeBron. Chris Paul could sign a more team friendly deal and accept a little less than the max like Kevin Durant did, and voila, Houston could sign James.
The general consensus around LeBron is that he’s still the best player in world. Put him on a team with a James Harden and Paul backcourt and he makes the Rockets downright scary. But the Rockets won’t be the only team after The King next summer.
The Lakers have been gearing up for a run at a superstar in 2018 for some time now. They’d have to clear some space to sign two max players, but they should be able to make that happen. Presumably, their two biggest targets are Paul George and LeBron James, but they’ll have to get lucky to sign both.
The Thunder have just signed Russell Westbrook to a massive 5-year extension and they’ve added Carmelo Anthony. So would George leave a top four team in the West to join a squad in L.A. that’s in a rebuilding stage? And at this point in LeBron’s career, anything less than a championship every year is a failure. Staying in Cleveland or even going a team like Houston gives him better championship odds than the Lakers. And if it turns out that Lonzo Ball still needs more time to develop, as young point guards often do, than LeBron to L.A. becomes more unlikely.
LeBron James would make the Houston Rockets an absolute powerhouse. And if they were able to keep most of their rotational players, the Rockets would be a legitimate threat to Golden State. Will LeBron seriously consider Houston next summer? No one real knows, so we’ll have to wait and see.