The 2018 NBA Finals begin on Thursday, meaning 28 teams are already firmly entrenched in the offseason. For the Los Angeles Lakers, that means preparations for a busy summer where they hope to recruit multiple star free agents.
Among those linked to the Lakers over the past season is LeBron James who has continued to carry the Cavaliers to the Finals. However, the Cavs have been anything but spectacular outside of their superstar, giving some evidence to notions that he would pack his bags and leave Cleveland this summer.
The Lakers are among several teams linked to James and they certainly will not be the only ones angling hard to sign the best player in the world. In fact, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Rockets – via their point guard, Chris Paul – have already begun the process:
Rest assured that the Rockets’ understandably devastated Chris Paul — who made a fast exit from Toyota Center late Monday night after being forced to watch the biggest game of his life from the bench because of his hamstring injury — has already begun his recruitment of James to Houston.
Paul is one of James’ best friends so it makes sense that he’s already in LeBron’s ear about a potential move to Houston. From a basketball standpoint, it makes sense. The Rockets took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals despite Paul missing the final two games – both Warriors wins – with a strained hamstring. A trio of Paul, James, and James Harden would create one of the most loaded rosters in the league and pose a serious challenge to the Warriors’ dynasty.
On the other hand, the Rockets are immensely strapped in regards to their cap space. Even if every free agent’s rights are renounced, the Rockets only have about 22 million dollars in cap space. That doesn’t include Paul’s own cap hold of 35 million dollars. Houston would need to find takers for Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon’s contracts while also letting Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela walk to even get close to the necessary money to get James unless they work out terms for a sign and trade with the Cavaliers.
Either way, the Rockets will be a challenge to the Lakers in recruiting LeBron James. They are the best basketball fit for him and that goes a long way, even with the monetary restrictions that they have.