Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will once again become the center of the spotlight as he’s expected to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. With the Cavaliers’ failure to reclaim the title against the Golden State Warriors, rumors continue to heat up that James will be leaving his hometown for the second time and chase for another NBA championship title somewhere else.
In the past months, several NBA teams have been linked to LeBron James. One of the teams frequently mentioned as a potential free agency destination for the 33-year-old small forward is the Houston Rockets. According to Marc Stein of New York Times, the presence of Chris Paul in Houston makes the Rockets a “dangerous player” in LeBron’s free agency in July.
“If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes a dangerous player, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in.”
Chris Paul is a close pal of LeBron James, and both superstars are members of the famous Banana Boat Crew, who dreamt of playing together in one team before they retire as an NBA player. Signing with the Rockets make sense for James since they are the only team that gives the Warriors a tough fight in the Western Conference Playoffs. If Paul hadn’t suffered an injury, most people believe the Rockets would have played the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and not the Warriors.
The addition of LeBron James will undeniably make the Rockets a more competitive team next season, but bringing him to Houston won’t be as easy as anyone thinks. Before joining the pursuit for LeBron, the Rockets will first need to convince Chris Paul to sign a new contract. When the Rockets got eliminated, there are speculations that Paul will demand a huge payday and has no intention to take a pay cut in free agency.
Giving Paul and James max contract will force the Rockets to sacrifice the likes of Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon – three players who made a large contribution to the team’s recent success. If the Rockets fail to open enough salary cap space to give both superstars decent offers, Stein opened up the possibility that James may convince Paul that they could sign together with another team.
“But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close,” Stein said.