It was October 2012 when the Houston Rockets landed the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, in a blockbuster six-player trade, signing him to a five-year, $80 million extension.
That was the first step in owner Les Alexander’s rebuilding model: acquiring an All-Star caliber player capable of attracting other elite players.
In July 2013, the Rockets then lured Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers due to the successful recruiting by Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin. Alexander had figured Howard and Harden were the two marquee players needed that coach Kevin McHale could lead deep into the playoffs.
And yet, led by Howard and Harden, arguably the best players at their positions, the Rockets failed to advance past the first round with home-court advantage over an up-and-coming Portland Trail Blazers squad.
When the series was over, Alexander made the proclamation that his team would make “a big splash”, whether it be in free agency or via trade. As Yahoo Sports reports, the Rockets have been linked to aggressively targeting Carmelo Anthony, one of the biggest names who will be available this summer.
An Offense with Harden, Anthony and Howard?
The Rockets were the second highest scoring team in the league this season and adding an offensive juggernaut like Anthony would make them impossible to defend.
At 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, Anthony is a load to deal with offensively. He’s a threat from every spot on the floor: in the post, from three, he can penetrate and get to the rim and his mid-range game is top notch. He was also the top rebounder among small forwards this season (8.1 per game). So where would he fit in with Houston’s offense?
To his defense, Anthony has never played with All-Star caliber players before on a consistent basis (Amar’e Stoudemire‘s injuries, etc.) In Houston, Howard already demands so much attention inside and Harden is a ball dominant guard who could create easy opportunities for Anthony, and he wouldn’t have to play as much one on one because of it. He gets the ball-stopper label on offense because the rest of his teammates have always just watched while he creates, halting the rhythm of the offensive flow. With McHale’s philosophy, he could play more off the ball while Howard demands double teams and Harden orchestrates the pick and roll.
In this year’s All-Star game, Anthony set a record by making 8 three-pointers playing alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving. The man needs elite players to play with, and he would have that playing alongside Howard and Harden.
A big three consisting of Anthony, Howard and Harden would rival the current threats of Miami’s James, Wade and Chris Bosh, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, and San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.