With the NBA free agency period just over a month away, the rumor mill is churning faster than ever. The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be busy this summer in pursuit of superstar free agents like Paul George and/or LeBron James. But they will have plenty of competition from other teams.
The Rockets have reportedly already made contact with James via his longtime friend Chris Paul but they’re expected to be suitors for George as well. According to Kelly Iko of USA TODAY Sports’ Rockets Wire, the forward is high on Houston’s offseason wish list:
With the offseason approaching, the Rockets will once again be aggressive in free agency, targeting James or George, both sources said. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record about George.
It’s important to note here that Iko is not a well-known NBA reporter and certainly not one of the five or six that should always be trusted. Nevertheless, his report matches up with other knowledge. The Rockets were reportedly aggressive in attempting to trade for George last summer before the Thunder were able to swoop in and get him.
As we mentioned in our earlier post on LeBron, the math makes it incredibly difficult for the Rockets to pull off such a heist. They are cash strapped and would need to make major, difficult moves in order to sign a player of George’s caliber to his maximum salary. About the only way – or at least the easiest way – they manage to do so would be a sign and trade if George decides to opt into his the final year of his contract and the Thunder are willing to take on bad contracts (hello, Ryan Anderson) to facilitate the move.
Nevertheless, the Rockets will pose a threat to the Lakers’ plans this summer. Daryl Morey is a shrewd general manager who is famous for wily tactics to create cap space. The Rockets took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference and could have been in the Finals if not for an untimely injury to Paul. If George’s priority is winning over being in LA, it would make sense for him to pursue a partnership with Houston.