Last summer, the Rockets added Chris Paul, Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker, but by the end of the offseason, some fans felt a sense of disappointment at the team's inability to land New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony to the fold.
Anthony, who was parting ways with the Knicks, was determined to land in Houston, but the Rockets couldn't put together a package of players to satisfy New York's new GM Scott Perry. Ultimately, Anthony agreed to open up his no trade clause (a rarity in the NBA) to include the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he wound up.
Obviously, it worked out much better for the Rockets than the Thunder and Melo had a relatively disappointing season in OKC. The Thunder, after re-signing Paul George, are heavily burdened with salary cap restraints and want to part ways with Anthony, and it appears the Rockets are once again going to make a play for the forward.
For the moment, OKC is trying to find a willing trade partner, but only a few teams have shown interest and none are on Anthony's shortlist (he still retains his no trade clause). If they are unable to trade him, it appears the Thunder will release Anthony under a provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Anthony would still be paid, but the Thunder could save nearly $100 million in salary cap dollars. It wouldn't get them under the cap, but it would lessen the impact of the luxury tax on the franchise.
Paul and Anthony have been longtime friends, along with new Laker LeBron James. There are many who believe that might be another potential landing spot for Anthony if he were released by OKC.
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Anthony may not be the player he was four or five seasons ago, but he could certainly help the Rockets, taking additional pressure off Paul and James Harden on offense. Additionally, he never seemed like a good fit in OKC, where Russell Westbrook dominates the basketball. The problem is that, much like last year, the Rockets are going to have to wait for the Thunder to make a decision.
That could take until August 31, when OKC would have to either release or keep him. Fans are already awaiting word on what will happen with restricted free agent Clint Capela. A recent report said Capela was unhappy with initial negotiations with the Rockets, feeling their offer was too low. But, the Rockets have no incentive to speed up the process. They would prefer another team make an offer so they can match and not have to set the market value for the young center. With so much cap space dried up already, it may be tough for Capela to find an offer he feels is fair.
Then there is Mbah a Moute, who seems like he wants to return, but remains a free agent. If all the Rockets did was re-sign their own players and add Michael Carter-Williams, while losing Trevor Ariza, that would be fine, but they would prefer to do more especially with the additions to the Golden State roster. Anthony would certainly be the kind of high profile name that could continue to energize a fan base coming off a run to the Western Conference Finals and an MVP for their best player.
Unfortunately, it seems like we'll all be forced to wait through another summer of uncertainty as the Melo saga drags on.