Everyone seems to have an opinion where LeBron James should take his talents. Should he join the upstart 76ers with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? Should he take his talents to the bright lights of Los Angeles to pair with Paul George? The third option appears to be heading down south to the growing city of Houston to team up with Chris Paul and James Harden. In the short term, this could be LeBron’s best team, especially considering this team minus LeBron just took the Warriors to 7 games in the Western Conference Finals. However, just adding LeBron isn’t that simple and there’s something a lot of people seem to be forgetting. There’s a salary cap in the NBA. Are you sure you’re aware of this NBA Media Meatheads?
The challenge of adding James to Houston is more difficult than it appears but the possibility is more than a pipedream. With Chris Paul also heading to free agency (people seem to also be forgetting this) the Rockets have their work cut out for themselves. Let’s take a look at how we turn the Rockets into the LeBrockets in the summer of 2018.
First, let’s start by saying that LeBron James would need to opt into his contract and then execute a sign and trade with the Rockets. James would actually make more money if he pursued this option so I’m sure he won’t complain about this route. His player option worth $35.6 million is slightly more than the current max projection of $35.33. This is really the only option because Chris Paul won’t take a pay cut. Especially after he negotiated the CBA for the players union.
The easiest route would be by finding a taker for Ryan Anderson. The problem is nobody wants Ryan Anderson. With two years remaining on his contract that will pay Anderson $20.4 million this year and $21.3 million the year after, Anderson’s contract isn’t moveable. Cleveland will demand some sort of draft capital for doing a sign and trade for James, to begin with. Adding in Anderson’s mega-deal kills any chance of that happening. I’m sure the Rockets will try to get creative and maybe ship Anderson off to another team that has boatloads of cap space. The problem is there really isn’t any incentive for a team to take on that cancer deal. Houston is already without their first-round pick in this year’s draft. They also don’t have any young enticing talent to offset the deal either. The Rockets are stuck with Anderson which really kills their pursuit of James. Still, the Rockets would need to get to about $30 million in matching salaries so Eric Gordon is probably a goner regardless.
Now that doesn’t mean the LeBrockets can’t come true. Packaging Eric Gordon, Aaron Jackson, Nene, Chinanu Onuaku, PJ Tucker and Zhou Qi would get it done. Those salaries would add up to $29.4 million. Obviously, the Rockets would have to throw the Cavs some first round picks for making it worth their time. Clint Capela could still be re-signed but it would cost them a fortune in luxury tax. It would absolutely be worth the price of admission and the Rockets would have the best starting five in the league. Now depth might be a problem but when you have a chance to get LeBron, it’s something that you have to do. Houston really has no choice but to chase this avenue because you might want to think twice about giving Chris Paul a max…