Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; An exterior view of the Toyota Center prior to game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Landing Carmelo Anthony 101: The Houston Rockets

The New York Knicks have taken a step back in the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes. Maybe we should tackle this issue from another perspective; the Houston Rockets have taken a huge step towards winning the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes.

By hiring amateur coach Derek Fisher, they’ve done nothing to ensure Carmelo they’re surrounding him with the abilities and talent needed to improve his winning chances in this league.

This is starting to look like a LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers situation. The Cavs did get a superstar in Shaq, but they got it about four years removed from the height of his powers. In this case, the Rocket’s wouldn’t be getting a washed up superstar, but they’d be getting someone who might’ve not even gotten his powers just yet. Too bad for the Knicks Great news Houston, as long as the Knicks keep scaring Melo, since the Rockets can be the branch he grabs on to before he hits the ground.

1. Cap Space:

With only $57 million on the 2013-14 payroll, the Rockets landed under the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, and Portland Traiblazers for the 25th most expensive payroll of the league.

Will this carry on to 2014-15? NO! They’ve got $71 million in for next year! That’s a huge step back and next year they’ll become the fourth most expensive payroll in the league! THEY JUST JUMPED 21 SPOTS!

Rocket’s have team options for (1) Chandler Parsons ($964,750), (2) Patrick Beverly ($915,243) and (3) Troy Daniels ($816,000). Let’s say they use every single one of them, they’d be dumping $2’695,993 in salaries. By dumping said amount they’d go under the luxury tax threshold, helping ownership save a few bucks (a lot of bucks actually) in penalties. Still, they’re not ballparking Melo’s price.

Let’s say they get Melo at a $16 million discount. The Rockets still would NEED TO trade Asik and Lin to try and remain under said threshold.

Why am I making such a big deal over said threshold? You could check in with Mikhail Prokhorov. The Brooklyn Nets’ payroll for last season was set at about $100 million and by being $30+ million over said threshold, the Nets were subject to $80 million in luxury tax penalties. The result? The most expensive payroll in the NBA at $180 million dollars (think about it, that’s like paying $15 million dollars to each and every one of your 12 man NBA roster, which is crazy). So yeah, ownership might want to keep it under said threshold since not everyone’s a Russian billionaire who loves jet-skies.

2. Two Alpha-Dogs on the same team. This sounds familiar.

Nov 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is restrained by official Scott Foster (48) as he confronts Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) and shooting guard James Harden (13) during the third quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. The Rockets beat the Knicks 109-106. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, James Harden’s a shooting guard and Carmelo Anthony’s a forward. Totally different players. They just have one thing in common: they L-O-V-E to shoot the ball. Both of them are great at shooting and scoring, Melo’s been regarded, alongside Kevin Durant, as one of the purest NBA scorers and the Oklahoma City Thunder miss James Harden’s scoring coming off the bench. Herein lies the problem though: who gets which shots?

This is a problem we, the media, have talked about before. We talked about it in The Decision. We talked about it while trying to find out where Carmelo would land in MeloDrama 1.0 (crossing out the Los Angeles Lakers since Carmelo and Kobe Bryant both love to shoot the ball).

Harden had 6.1 assists per game this season, good enough for the 15th spot in the league, putting him ahead of Kyrie Irving (16), Mike Conley (17) and even KIA’s Most Improved Player Goran Dragic. So Harden might not be the problem.

On the other hand, Carmelo Anthony, averaging only 3.1 assists per game, was 70th in the league. That’s a huge drop from 15th.

The latter shouldn’t be an issue though, since most of the time Harden’s the one who’s running point for H-Town, which means Melo’s touches would be reduced.

3. Melo’s touches being reduced.

(Cue to Houston taking a huge step back in Carmelo Anthony’s Sweepstakes.) (Cue to Carmelo Anthony nodding slowly.)

Yes, he wants to win. Yes, he knows he needs help. Yes, he might go join some other team who’s already in bed with a superstar. Yes, he might take less money. Yes, he’d love to be in a no-income-tax state. But unfortunately, yes, he might not be willing to give his precious touches away.

 The Rockets might just want to go after Kevin Love.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony Houston Rockets NBA

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