Most have considered LeBron James landing with the Houston Rockets a suicide mission, but The King’s new destination could perhaps not be as far-fetched as previously thought.
The Rockets will have to go deep into the luxury tax to do so, but they must first pull off another Chris Paul-like trade to make this happen.
According to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, James would have to opt into the last year of his contract to facilitate a trade scenario with the Rockets.
With Chris Paul expecting his much-awaited pay day from the Rockets, it is unlikely that either him or James (the NBPA’s president and vice-president, respectively) are willing to take a massive pay cut to make this happen.
Yet this is perhaps only the easiest part of the process, as the Rockets would need to find a way to unload Ryan Anderson’s gigantically unattractive contract, which will prove a very tough sell.
The marksman will make $20.4 million this next season and $21.3 million during the 2019-20 campaign — an overinflated contract for the measly 9.3 points and five rebounds per game he’s averaged this season.
While Anderson’s bulky contract could help match part of James’ contract ($35.6 million), the Cleveland Cavaliers want no part of it.
Historically, it has resulted in Carmelo Anthony ending up with the Oklahoma City Thunder instead of the Rockets, considering the New York Knicks wanted no part of absorbing such a monstrous contract.
This obstacle would represent another deal like Paul’s to take place, giving the Cavs every minor piece they have, along with some working ones to land The King.
“The Rockets would be required to send out at least $28.4 million in matching salary after the end of the July moratorium, and a package of Eric Gordon, Aaron Jackson, Nene, Chinanu Onuaku, PJ Tucker and Zhou Qi would add up to $29.4 million,” wrote Pelton. “(Houston would have to guarantee the 2018-19 salaries of Jackson and Zhou first, because otherwise their salaries would not count for trade purposes.)”
The margin for error is very slim, and while where there is a will, there is a way — this could prove one that would have to dismantle their mere exoskeleton to make this trade a reality.