Don’t Overreact - Jalen Rose predicts that Kevin Durant will leave OKC for Houston.
Would this be great for Houston fans? Yes, Houston fans, it would be great. Could it happen? Let’s talk about that. Kevin Durant becomes a free-agent in 2016. Houston only has two players that are virtually a lock to be on the team: James Harden and Dwight Howard (player option), taking up $40,026,675 in cap space. Assuming the cap stays in the neighborhood of $58 million as it is this year, that leaves about $18 million to throw at Durant before hitting the cap. Frankly, I’m not enough of a cap guru to know the various ways the Rockets could finagle to sign players to fill out the rest of the roster, but it’s safe to say that building a supporting cast would require creativity.
Now consider the risks needed to make that happen. First, Chandler Parsons would either have to be allowed to walk in free agency or traded–not a great plan for chemistry. Since Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik come off the books the season before Durant is free, they would most likely be traded for players whose contracts expire in 2016 (hello, Chris Bosh and Kevin Love). The trade machine calls the Love trade a fair shake, and the Bosh trade looks a little more lop-sided for Houston, but either one could happen tomorrow. Of the two trades, I see the Bosh trade as more likely. Miami gets the elite rim protector that they have always lacked, they get another playmaker in case Wade gets injured, and they keep the faces of their franchise: Wade and Lebron. Minnesota doesn’t do it unless Love goes full Vince-Carter-in-Toronto on them, and they decide to just grab the hottest assets on the market regardless of how well they fit the team.
If neither of those pipe-dream trades work, the Rockets would either have to trade for deadbeat cap filler or leave the cap space open in the middle of Dwight Howard’s prime, which would be the height of irresponsibility. Daryl Morey isn’t going to fritter away a championship window in hopes of Kevin Durant taking a pay cut to leave OKC. But if he can trade for Bosh or Love while managing the rest of the cap, he could clear the way for a dynasty.
Lights, Camera – Dwight, Hakeem and Coach Mac are on the national cover of Sports Illustrated’s NBA season preview issue. Kevin McHale looks really, really intimidating, and Dwight’s legs look very, very veiny.
Also, if you want to see some pictures of Howard failing to look intimidating, check out the outtakes.
#GotEm – After James Harden snapped a photo of Dwight Howard napping during the Asia trip, Dwight Howard went on the warpath. As Hardwood Paroxysm recounts, his first victim was Patrick Beverley. Stay tuned.
The Tempest – Since Kevin McHale remarked that he had “two starting point guards,” a storm has predictably erupted across the blogosphere. NBA.com’s Blogtable tackled the issue, with most of the writers calling it either neutral or a net positive for Houston. Yes, Jeremy Lin is being paid a lot to not be the undisputed starter, but he produced like a decent starter for most of last season. There is a question only because Beverley came out of nowhere to become one of the league’s most defensively destructive guards. Don’t complain. Just take the money and run.
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