LeBron James will be a free agent in a matter of months and, given what is transpiring in Cleveland at the moment, it seems increasingly likely that the future Hall of Fame forward will land elsewhere. To that end, there has been plenty of speculation about the Houston Rockets, led by James Harden and Chris Paul, setting up a possible landing spot for James and, while that notion is tantalizing, the team must execute some salary cap gymnastics in order to make it even a plausible outcome.
Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today are now reporting, though, that the Rockets have a tangential plan to pull it off but it involves the movement of Ryan Anderson and his two additional years of significant salary.
If the Rockets are going to have the salary cap space to chase LeBron James in free agency this July, they need to part ways with Ryan Anderson ($41.6 million combined in the next two seasons). It’s no surprise, then, that the Rockets are known to be telling teams that Anderson is available. They could also trade him around the June draft.
Anderson is a positive offensive player for Houston and his long-distance shooting has been key to unlocking the wonder that is the Rockets on that end of the floor. Still, he is likely overpaid on his current contract that pays him $41.5 million over the next two years and, while he is quite useful, Anderson’s deal would not cross the threshold into being a legitimately positive asset.
With that in mind, it would be difficult for Houston to get an unsuspecting team to take his contract without additional compensation and the Rockets already owe a 2018 first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks. There are, of course, ways to make it happen without pure draft capital but they are more complicated to be sure and, considering the risk of James choosing to head elsewhere in July, there is likely a limit to just how aggressive Houston would be in dumping Anderson before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Still, this is a very interesting situation to monitor and the Rockets seem to have every intention of pursuing the best player in the league this summer.