Report: Rockets Want Bosh If Carmelo Signs Elsewhere

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony hold the keys to free agency. The teams with hopes of acquiring either or both superstars will remain mostly stagnant until each player makes his decision, leaving a quality list of secondary free agent targets in limbo. The best of that group? Chris Bosh, and a report by ESPN says that the Houston Rockets are very interested in signing the nine-time All-Star if Anthony ultimately spurns them.

The news is courtesy of Marc Stein, and is especially interesting given the note that Bosh would have been atop Houston’s wish list at free agency’s opening if Daryl Morey and company believed they had a chance to sign him.

The Houston Rockets, if they fail to land free agent Carmelo Anthony, plan to shift their attention to trying to swipe Chris Bosh from the Miami Heat, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told on Thursday night that the Rockets — while still holding out hope that Anthony will choose them after hosting him Wednesday in Houston — have already let Bosh know how interested they are in bringing the Dallas native back to Texas…

But sources say the Rockets are determined to test Bosh’s resolve in the event Anthony elects to return to the New York Knicks or chooses one of his other three primary suitors this week: the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Mavericks or the Los Angeles Lakers.

Houston needs a big forward with 3-point range such as Bosh in its search for the ideal frontcourt sidekick to All-Star center Dwight Howard. Sources say Bosh and Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki likely would have been at the top of the Rockets’ list of free-agent targets had Houston believed it had a shot at either player.

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for the Rockets than Bosh. Despite flashes of promise from Terrence Jones last season, Houston never found a surefire, long-term sidekick for Howard in 2013-2014. The twin-tower experiment of a Howard-Omer Asik frontcourt mostly failed and Donatas Motiejunas regressed last season after a solid rookie year. Kevin McHale’s desire to space the floor with a legitimate long-range threat at nominal power forward was so strong that he pigeonholed natural wings Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia in that position at times, and even revived the career of Omri Casspi.

Anthony played power forward to great success at times with the New York Knicks the past few seasons. He’s not the full-time perimeter attacker he was early in his career, and actually operates best these days from the pinch-post. Obviously he’s developed into a very, very good three-point shooter, too. But without offering any rim-protection or much comfort in pick-and-roll situations, he’s basically a non-defender at the 4 and certainly couldn’t play center when Howard hits the bench despite his rebounding prowess.

Bosh, however, could do it all for Houston. He became a viable threat from beyond the arc in 2013-2014 and is ever-comfortable working as a reduced offensive option playing with other stars, an Anthony adjustment would be forced to make for the Rockets but could be ill-equipped to do so. And defensively, it’s absolutely no contest. Bosh is arguably the best pick-and-roll defender in basketball and embraced the duties of a center as best he could throughout the past two seasons in Miami. He’s not only an ideal option for the Rockets because of presumptive synergy with Howard, but because he could play as a lone big man when Howard is sitting. That kind of lineup flexibility is rare, and something that helped make the Heat dominant in the Big Three era.

It bears mentioning that it would be a bit easier for Houston to sign Bosh than it would Anthony from a financial perspective. Bosh is supposedly seeking a salary in the $15 million range from the Heat; the Rockets would have approximately that much room under the cap if they can part with Jeremy Lin, though that’s before assuming an extension for Parsons. It’s unknown if Bosh would be willing to take less than a maximum contract from any team save Miami, but it seems more possible than Anthony doing the same because of the likelihood New York will offer him a five-year, $129 million deal.

All of this is to say that Houston might be better off if Anthony decides to sign elsewhere and they land Bosh as a result. Given Stein’s report that Bosh would have been at the top of the team’s free agent board if it thought he was actually available, it seems Houston certainly thinks so, too.

Who’s a better fit for Houston – Anthony or Bosh?

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