The next destination for LeBron James is always a hot topic in the sports world, even if the most likely scenario is him staying in Cleveland. The latest team linked with a chance to acquire the best player in the world are the Houston Rockets, but should the Rockets really try to recruit James?
Sure, having the best player in the world is never a bad idea, but there are reasons to ask questions about this possible move.
The Rockets have created an offensive culture that perfectly complements the players they have. With offensive guru Mike D’Antoni at the helm, James Harden and his crew of three-point marksmen have taken the definition of a three-point offense to the next level. Harden knows this is his team and the team follows his lead, with even Chris Paul changing his playing style to adjust to the culture Harden and D’Antoni have created in Houston.
If James were to join the team, would he be willing to accept that this is Harden’s team? If not, would Harden be fine with relinquishing the keys to the team that was built for him to flourish?
These might be hypothetical questions, and the goal would always be overcoming the Golden State Warriors, but with the addition of Paul to the team, there are already two heavy ball handlers on the roster, and as the Oklahoma City Thunder have shown, having three is tough to accommodate. The Rockets are perfectly synchronized at the moment, and Paul has integrated himself seamlessly, so would it be wise to risk what has been built these last few years?
If a team wants a shot at James, it better be ready to make some moves in order to make it possible. Signing James to his max value would require shuffling of several pieces on the team, most likely affecting the bench. With Houston currently boasting one of the top benches in the league, the depth would certainly be affected.
Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute have been huge this season, helping keep leads and even increasing it at times. More than likely a few of the rotational players would be sacrificed to accommodate the move for James, possibly turning the Rockets into a top-heavy team, a big disadvantage when facing the ultra-stacked Warriors.
If winning the championship is the goal, the path will definitely go through Golden State, and any disadvantage will be made to pay for. Having a deep squad is definitely a must for any team wanting to challenge the defending champs. Giving up that depth could come back to haunt the Rockets if any of the starters suffered an injury, or if fatigue caught up with James and Paul, both who are in the latter stages of their careers.
When Paul and Harden decided to team up in the summer, no one really labeled the Rockets as a superteam the likes of Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland. It was seen as more of an attempt of two great players trying to help each other get to where neither had been before. The team didn’t receive much hate from neither the fans nor media, but that wouldn’t be the case if James were to come to Houston.
The amount of scrutiny James would bring would more than likely overshadow the great work the organization has done with the development of the team. If they were to win, it would be remembered more as James winning a ring rather than the team as a whole. That would be totally unfair to all involved in the process of turning the Rockets into the offensive and entertaining juggernaut they are today.
Yes, winning is all that matters, and getting the best player in the game definitely improves the chances of winning, but sometimes the path to glory is just as important as the glory itself. With James on the team, the perception of the Rockets would be of taking the easy way to success, rather than earning it.
James is the best in the business, and most teams would give everything to obtain him. The Rockets aren’t like most teams though, and they should keep that in mind this coming free agency.
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