When the Houston Rockets look to convince potential free agent Carmelo Anthony to pass up millions and leave New York, the opportunity to join forces with James Harden and Dwight Howard will be the team’s strongest selling point. With that in mind, the team’s two stars are “prepared to recruit” Anthony and create a new Big Three, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Houston’s talented duo arguably gives the franchise an advantage over any other prospective Anthony suitor, Miami withstanding. And while teaming up with LeBron James in South Beach would undoubtedly be a strong move, there are some possible advantages to playing in Houston, too.
Namely, Harden and Howard are much younger than Miami’s core players, and the road to signing in Houston isn’t nearly as complicated. Toss in the added bonus of no state income tax, and suddenly you can see why the Rockets think having their star players on the recruiting trail might be the perfect cherry to top it all.
The Rockets still need to make some major moves to free up cap space for Anthony, who will be able to command a four-year, $90 million deal in free agency, however. That’s far less than he could receive in New York, but unless he’s willing to take less to field a more competitive team, Houston would need to hold a borderline fire sale to make cap room.
On the other hand, Anthony could also take a pay cut closer to $19 million annually and allow the Rockets to keep several key players. If leaving New York to win titles is the ultimate goal here, a few million would make a huge difference given the money already tied up on Harden and Howard.
Of course, all of this assumes that Anthony actually opts out of his contract with the Knicks on July 1, and the Rockets will need to deal Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik no matter what. He could simply exercise his $23 million option for 2014-15 and stick in New York at least one more year, rather than join Houston, Chicago, Miami or any of other rumored possibilities. But that’s still a few weeks away, so the rumors will continue.