The Houston Rockets haven’t given up on creating their own version of the superteam, no matter how much they have to gut their depth chart. The New York Knicks are still hoping to move Carmelo Anthony, finally finding a team he’s willing to play for and that’s willing to take him on.
Anthony has waived his no-trade clause so the Knicks and the Rockets can deal with each other. The Knicks don’t seem to want too much in return. Giving up on Anthony’s $26.2 million this season and his $27.9 million player option next year seems to be prize enough for a team that did sign Tim Hardaway Jr. to four years and $71 million, but overall is looking to dump veteran salaries, not add them.
The problem right now holding the deal from happening – the Rockets payroll. After giving James Harden a huge extension and adding Chris Paul among other moves, the Rockets stand at a roster cap of over $114 million. Their biggest burden right now is Ryan Anderson, who is tied to $19.5 million in 2017-2018, and has $41 million coming his way in the next two seasons. An aging stretch 4 who can still shoot very well but with a very specific role? The Rockets are finding it difficult to make a trade with a third team so they can add Anthony. Anderson isn’t a salary-dump type contract because he’s tied down for such a long time and for so much money.
Usually in the NBA, especially when there’s no deadline breathing down everyone’s neck, where there’s a will there’s a way. Even with Anderson being difficult to shop, the stretch-release option is always out there, so no contract is actually something that it’s impossible to get out of.
It’s interesting to see the Rockets swinging for the fences. However, they remain committed to James Harden for the foreseeable future. Even if the short-term additions of Paul and Anthony end up in disaster; and frankly anything less than a championship is a failure when you’re shopping everything and everyone for players in their 30’s, the Rockets can always cut them loose, move on and continue to build around Harden. That doesn’t necessarily promise championships, but it does make sure they have a superstar for the rest of his prime to lean on and possibly trade if everything else fails.