Report: Rockets Will Chase LeBron In Free Agency

The Houston Rockets have pulled off arguably the biggest personnel moves in the NBA the last two offseasons: Trading for James Harden in 2012 and signing Dwight Howard in 2013. However, despite coming off their most successful campaign since 2008 with one of the youngest rosters in the league, the Rockets aren’t satisfied. Wheeling and dealing General Manager Daryl Morey reportedly has ambitions of adding LeBron James to his team this summer to complete basketball’s latest and greatest Big Three.

The news comes courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Though Houston would have to do major maneuvering to clear the cap space necessary to sign LeBron, its theoretical starting five appears downright dominant on paper.

League sources say that Houston is preparing to make an all-out push to land James when free agency opens on July 1, assuming James opts out, as expected. If the Rockets miss out on James, they will turn their full attention to Carmelo Anthony. Chris Bosh is also on the radar.

There are rumblings that James will start weighing his options this weekend. One rival executive pegged his chances of leaving Miami at 40 percent.

The competition for James’ affection will be fierce, but Houston’s pitch may be tough to beat.

The Rockets already have the league’s best guard-center tandem (Harden-Howard), solid young role players (Chandler Parsons, who is set to become a restricted free agent, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones) and an owner (Les Alexander) who is willing to spend. Houston also has all of its first-round picks for the next couple of years as well as a knack for finding talent late in the draft.

Like Florida, Texas has no state income tax, negating Miami’s advantage on that front and giving the Rockets a big selling point in their pursuit of Anthony. (A player pays about 10 percent more in taxes in New York than in Texas.).

What the Rockets don’t have is salary-cap room. But they could clear about $19 million by unloading a few players, starting with Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, who are taking up a combined $16.7 million in cap space…

The new starting five would be James, Harden, Howard, Parsons and Beverley. That’s worthy of title-contender status, even in the ultra-competitive West. Indeed, that lineup is arguably superior to the one James joined in Miami four years ago.

It’s not exactly surprising that Morey and company plan to chase James. Any team with the requisite amount of flexibility, creativity, or both should reach out to LeBron, and Morey has made his desire to put a third superstar alongside Harden and Howard no secret. Going after James, then, is the logical and prudent play for the Rockets even if the chances he signs with them are slim.

In his report, Beck also states Houston’s intention to court Anthony, a far more likely option at this point than James. Whereas all indications point to LeBron re-upping with Miami, Carmelo’s situation is far more fluid. Despite a “great” meeting with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher recently, Anthony is still expected to notify the New York Knicks of his decision to become a free agent in coming days. And though it was reported earlier today that Chicago is Carmelo’s most likely landing spot, counting out Morey and the Rockets in free agent bidding is never wise.

Regardless, it appears that Houston is primed for another exciting summer. Two weeks ago, the big news for the Rockets was that they declined Parsons’ player option for next season. That they’ve progressed to the point of potentially adding a legitimate superstar to run the wings with him is indicative of just how scary a suitor Houston can be in free agency.

Do you think the Rockets have a chance to land LeBron?

Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.