With free agency kicking off this weekend, the NBA world is going to go mad. With so much potential activity, mayhem is going to break loose. The Rockets could go in several different directions this summer, but there is a difference between what Rockets fans want versus what they can expect to get.
The question asked above in the headline can be simply answered in two words: LeBron James.
I think that should be every team’s answer to the question, but most teams aren’t in the position that the Rockets are in where they have a legitimate chance to acquire LeBron. The Rockets are the one team that would become the Vegas favorite to win the Championship over the Warriors if LeBron came over to Houston. So that’s the one leg up the Rockets have in the free agency pursuit of LeBron over any other suitor. I’m sure the Rockets would be over the moon if they could sign LeBron.
However, there is a very good chance that the Rockets do not sign him. If LBJ opts out of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent, the chances of LeBron coming to Houston decrease tremendously given that the Rockets are keen on bringing back Chris Paul with a potential supermax deal and Clint Capela on what could very well be a max contract for a restricted free agent. I think both are near locks to return to the Rockets next season.
The Rockets also have many other valuable in-house free agents that are still on their radar: Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Gerald Green. There is interest in bringing all four back, but considering all played well beyond their deserved salary and will warrant raises in free agency.
I think if the Rockets strike out on LeBron, their strategy will be looking to retain the team from last year and run it back again. I don’t think fans will be too disappointed if that is the case because fans loved this past year’s team and they had a great connection with their fanbase. Rockets fans have put their trust in Daryl Morey for a decade and it culminated in his first Executive of the Year Award this season, so there is not much Morey can do to anger the fanbase.
Given that the consolation prize for not getting LeBron is still very good, I don’t think fans will be mad if LeBron doesn’t become a Rocket next season. But given Morey’s attitude on superstars and his desire to bring as many as he can to Houston, he is going to go balls to the wall for LeBron, given that this will be his best and probably last chance to bring the biggest superstar of them all to Houston.
Morey has had a good track record in free agency the past few seasons that the fanbase can’t turn on him, even if he completely bombs free agency. For that to happen though, he would need to strike out on LeBron and one of either CP3 or Capela, which will be a nearly impossible task given that CP3 has publicly expressed his desire to stay with the Rockets and Capela is a restricted free agent.
This is an important offseason for the Rockets because this is their first offseason in over 20 years as a team undoubtedly in the top tier of the league. So the team needs to not get complacent and keep its foot on the gas to maintain their contender status.