Well, it’s not perfect news from Ken Berger, but it looks like the Rockets are still on the fringes of the Carmelo Anthony drama. The question is whether they are a player for his services, as he lists the Mavericks being, or if they’re simply involved as a facilitator.
Another team that various team executives believe is very much in the mix — either to make a push to land Melo as a rental or become involved as a third-team facilitator — is the Rockets. Houston fully expects to receive a disabled-player exception for Yao Ming totaling $5.8 million and already has a $6.3 million exception from the Trevor Ariza trade. Such exceptions can’t be combined, but individually they could be used to absorb a contract — such as, for example, the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith’s or Harrington’s — without sending equal money back. In return, the Rockets would either have to get a player they want or be compensated accordingly with draft picks or other assets. The Rockets also are flush with the expiring contracts of Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, and even Yao, whose contract is insured due to his season-ending foot injury.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has a history of bold moves, and has placed few restrictions on his front office, led by GM Daryl Morey, to spend money in order to win. The Rockets, for example, are currently a tax-paying team and are under no mandate from ownership to shed salary even though they are off to a slow start and have lost Yao for the season — and maybe for good.
Whether they are players for Anthony or not, it’s clear that the Rockets are going to be involved in a lot of trade rumors up at the deadline. Are they rumors for star players or rumors for draft picks? It may depend on if the team can fight their way back into contention. The Rockets have gotten all the way back to 13-15 after an abysmal start.