Two stars aren't enough for the Houston Rockets.
They want three.
After much debate, the Rockets have decided to decline their team option on Chandler Parsons, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Doing so makes him a restricted free agent and allows Houston to match any offer he receives. Picking it up would have permitted Parsons to reach unrestricted free agency in 2015, where he'd be ripe for the stealing.
But Wojnarowski also says the Rockets' decision to decline his option is part of a bigger, more star-rific endeavor:
For the Rockets, there are two distinct advantages to letting Parsons into restricted free agency now. First, Houston is determined to clear the necessary salary cap space this summer to chase a third maximum contract free agent to join Dwight Howard and James Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are said to top the Rockets' superstar wish list. They all have the ability to become free agents this July, and if general manager Daryl Morey can open enough cap space, the team will have an opportunity to chase whomever they please.
Clearing the requisite cap space goes beyond Parsons, though.
Way beyond Parsons.
He was slated to make under $965,000 next season, which falls well short of bank-breaking compensation. If the Rockets want to increase their spending power, others have to go.
Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik have to go.
Both players combine for a cap hit that falls just under $16.8 million. Dumping their expiring contracts has always been the key to boosting Houston's financial standing. If the Rockets can bid farewell to them, they'll have countless free-agent possibilities to explore.
In the event that those massive salary dumps prove impossible—likely—the Rockets do have the option of trying to acquire another star via trade.
One of the benefits that comes with Parsons' restricted free agency is he can now be part of a sign-and-trade agreement, which, as Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated points out, could help the Rockets acquire the disgruntled Kevin Love:
Allowing Parsons to become a free agent this summer does open up sign-and-trade possibilities. As a hypothetical, let’s say the Timberwolves and Rockets were interested in a trade package centered around swapping Love for Parsons. Minnesota’s interest in such a deal without a long-term commitment from Parsons would be minimal. The last thing you want to do after trading a franchise player is watch the player you received in return walk out the door the very next summer. Theoretically, Houston and Minnesota could reach agreement on a sign-and-trade involving Parsons that could satisfy everyone: the Rockets would receive Love, the Timberwolves would receive Parsons on a long-term contract, and Parsons would get his pay day.
Getting this far in the process suggests the Rockets are confident they can do something drastic now. They wouldn't risk handing Parsons a lucrative contract this year, thereby obliterating their financial plasticity for 2015, if they weren't.
"We’re always aggressive," Morey told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen in May. "We’ll always explore aggressive scenarios."
Offseason aggression landed the Rockets James Harden in 2012. Then Dwight Howard in 2013.
They can only hope summer 2014 will be just as sweet.
*Salary information via ShamSports.