The Houston Rockets took the Warriors to Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, but came up just short of knocking off Golden State.
To beat the Warriors, they need a piece that will put them over the edge—and his name is LeBron James.
However, like anything, bringing James to Houston is easier said than done, but there is a scenario that would allow the Rockets to bring him into the fold without giving up stars like James Harden or Chris Paul. This is it…
First, James would need to opt-in to his $35.6 million player option so the Rockets would be able to execute a sign-and-trade deal for him as a max-salary free agent, similar to the way they brought in Paul last year. This scenario would have huge luxury-tax implications for the Rockets, but would make James eligible to sign an extension after six months.
Second, Houston should do whatever it can to trade Ryan Anderson and his $20.4-million salary. If they can’t trade the big man, who is on the books for $21.3 million next year, Houston will need to work out a buyout and free up a little money that way.
If Houston can’t move Anderson, they could keep him and instead be forced to send six players—Eric Gordon, Aaron Jackson, Nene, Chinanu Onuaku, PJ Tucker, and Zhou Qi—to Cleveland to match with James’ salary. This option leaves Houston’s roster gutted, but would allow them to field a team with James, Harden, Paul and restricted free agent Clint Capela.
Even with a thin bench, those four players would give the Rockets and an excellent chance of taking the Warriors to Game 7 again—and winning. And then likely finishing off whoever wins the East with relative ease in the Finals.