It hasn’t been a great offseason so far for the Houston Rockets. Despite the re-signing of star point guard Chris Paul, they lost starting small forward Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns.
They’ve also been having issues in their negotiations with restricted free agent center Clint Capela. Not only are the teams far apart in their numbers, Capela is said to be upset with the organization over their offer of 4 years, $53 million and is instead reportedly seeking 4 years, $80 million. He is considering playing out the year on the qualifying offer and becoming unrestricted next season.
Now it’s being reported that the Rockets could also be in danger of losing Luc Mbah a Moute. The unrestricted free agent is also unhappy with the Rockets’ offer, said to be the same 1-year, $2.1 million veteran minimum deal he played on last season.
Mbah a Moute is reportedly seeking more long-term security than the Rockets are currently offering, and according to USA Today’s Rockets beat man Kelly Iko, Mbah a Moute has also received interest from the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, and Philadelphia 76ers, with at least two of those teams submitting official offers.
So needless to say, the Rockets are in desperate need of some good news on the free agency front, and at least for the moment, there are some positive reports floating right now about the soon-to-be-available Carmelo Anthony.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to rid themselves of Anthony’s $27.9 million contract, and though they are said to be pursuing some trade options, the most likely scenario for Anthony’s departure is a buyout (or buyout and stretch provisions), which would make Melo an unrestricted free agent.
Despite some reports that Anthony and the Lakers have mutual interest in light of the LeBron James decision, most of the current speculation centers around Anthony joining the Rockets.
Interesting. NBA execs largely consider Houston the favorite for Carmelo Anthony. Also have heard Lakers, Heat, and Sixers mentioned. I bet it’ll be the Rockets though. https://t.co/hHciV6PWvx— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) July 9, 2018
Yep yep https://t.co/jNO5tBSQDd— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) July 9, 2018
Chris Paul is said to be recruiting hard for the Rockets to sign Anthony, who is one of CP3’s best friends, and it’s well-known that Rockets had interest in Anthony last season.
That was, however, before Anthony had his worst season as a professional with the Thunder. He averaged just 16.2 points per game, the lowest of his career, and he shot just 40 percent from the field, also the worst of his career.
He did shoot 35.7 percent from deep, though, and he hit 169 total three-pointers, which were the most he’s ever hit in a season. With Houston’s reliance on the deep ball, he could still provide some value and possibly even have a rebound year playing alongside Paul and James Harden instead of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who were obviously bad fits as running mates.
Should the Rockets sign Melo, they’ll need to try their hardest to work something out with Mbah a Moute. Losing both Ariza and Luc while adding just Melo would be devastating to Houston’s previously much-improved defense. Anthony’s never been a good defender and was a -1.9 in defensive plus-minus last season. Even if he has something left offensively, the Rockets will not be a better team if they can’t supplement Melo’s defensive deficiencies with a guy like Mbah a Moute.
The Rockets are in desperate need of some positive free agency mojo, however, and if they can bring in Anthony on a short, cheap deal after his buyout, I’m all for kicking the tires to see if the old race car has any juice left in the engine.