Over the last few months, while the Rockets appear to have been building what should amount to a fairly strong team that will likely make the playoffs, it has become abundantly clear that the Rockets lack a true star that can make them true contenders for the Western Conference and NBA title.
Fortunately enough, a certain Carmelo Anthony is reportedly available, and perhaps even better, he listed the Rockets as a team he'd be willing to sign an extension with, the first first reported interest by a legitimate star in joining the Rockets in a very long time.
After getting their hopes up with the prospect of bringing Chris Bosh to Houston, Rockets fans are a bit more cynical this time around with the chance to acquire a star player. While the stars seem to be aligning for a Carmelo sighting in Houston, realistically how good are the Rockets' odds of nabbing him?
From the Rockets' end, the odds at least look very good that Morey will make a strong push to go after him, as he has been talking about the "next star" that the Rockets must acquire to challenge the Lakers out West.
Morey values two types of contracts more than any others: rookie scale contracts and max-level contracts, because they are typically the only two kinds of contracts that compensate a player well below his true market value.
Rookie scale contracts are set amounts that pay young players very little compared to their worth, and max contracts restrict the amount of money that a player can be paid despite the fact that superstars usually are worth more than $20 million to their team.
While certain players on rookie scale contracts can be acquired at a fairly low cost like Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee, who were brought in when only players on bad contracts were sent out (that may be a bit of an overstatement, but they were traded for players with very low values), Anthony is not going to come cheap.
A player in his prime with a scoring punch like Anthony will never be cheap, but if he agrees to an extension, that added security will only add to the price tag. Simply put, the Nuggets will not be giving away Anthony anytime soon.
Despite the steep price that it would likely take, if Morey has a chance to make a deal he will likely make almost anyone available from the roster, including star shooting guard Kevin Martin, as landing Anthony would be a big enough upgrade at the small forward position to offset a small downgrade in the shooting guard position.
The proverbial fly in the ointment that could throw the whole thing off could be Denver. Despite the fact that all signs point to a divorce between the Nuggets and Anthony, the Nuggets may not want to pull the trigger on a deal and hold out hope that he stays in Denver, and hold onto him past the trade deadline like the Raptors and Cavaliers did with their stars.
Additionally, while the Nuggets will likely have a general manager come February, the fact remains that they currently do not employ a GM, which could present a number of issues.
First, the team will almost certainly not trade Anthony before a general manager is installed, because if they have learned anything from history, when owners bargain trades, the deal typically does not go in their favor.
Finally, once a general manager is selected, he likely will not want to trade his best player as his first move, as they usually want to evaluate the team for a while before making any drastic moves (see the New Orleans Hornets), so a deal would seem to be less likely.
However, if the Nuggets are truly motivated to move their apparently disgruntled star, the Rockets would appear to be in the best position to grab him.
With young talent in Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and Patrick Patterson, expiring contracts in Jared Jeffries and Shane Battier, a potential star shooting guard in Kevin Martin, and draft picks galore from the Knicks, the Rockets have all the makings of a great package no matter what the Nuggets want, and could clearly outbid any team on his "wish list" (unless the Nets include Derrick Favors).
While it may be too early to start printing up the Anthony Rockets jerseys, Morey has to feel pretty good about his odds to finally add the missing piece to his puzzle.