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NBA free agency 2018: Rockets still pursuing LeBron James despite reports they’re lagging behind

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Daryl Morey is gonna see this through to end even if Houston isn’t the favorite.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After Monday night’s award ceremony, James Harden was adamant that the Houston Rockets didn’t need another big name player in order to chase a title, as he said to the Houston Chronicle:

“We’re great with what we have. From top to bottom, from the front office to coaching staff to players, personnel.”

But despite those words from the Rockets’ leader, most are reporting that Houston GM Daryl Morey is still prepared to take a huge run at wooing LeBron James over to H-town. In fact, USA Today’s Sam Amick had this say about the reigning NBA Executive of the Year and his attempt to bring James aboard:

“According to a person with knowledge of their situation, the Rockets are still all in on pursuing James – even if Harden made it clear that it was hardly a necessity. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.”

The most likely scenario in which LeBron comes to Houston is via a sign-and-trade agreement, much like the one that brought Chris Paul to the Rockets last summer after he opted in to the final year of his contract before agreeing to be traded to Houston.

If Lebron opts out, he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and the Rockets likely aren’t going to be able to sign James outright without James agreeing to some type of concessions. He has until this Friday to decide his plan of action, and thus far, most are saying he has yet to make up his mind.

That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning, however, and if we’re to believe that chatter, Houston’s chances at the moment aren’t very good.

It sounds like the most expected form of action for James by many is simply to opt in to his player option and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Lakers are currently considered the clear frontrunners to land LeBron should he decide to leave the great state of Ohio, with the Philadelphia 76ers sounding like a distant second.

This is isn’t to say the Rockets have no shot; there’s no denying that joining James Harden and Chris Paul in Rockets red would be the most obvious path to upending his nemesis and NBA parity antagonists the Golden State Warriors. But the general NBA scuttlebutt has generally shed a negative light on LeBron’s desires to join Houston throughout this entire process.

The good news is, we only have a few more days of this will he/won’t he drama before the 29 losers of the LeBron-stakes can move on with the rest of their offseason.