There could be a new potential landing spot for LeBron James if and when he hits free agency this summer: Houston.
USA Today's Sam Amick reported rumors that the Houston Rockets could be a strong candidate in the race to land the forward widely regarded as the NBA's best player.
"...there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance."
Predicting where James might head to next is one the favorite pastimes for NBA fans. It is a fun exercise to imagine him on different rosters, even as James himself has stayed mum on his plans for the postseason. The long-held rumor was that he planned to bolt for the Los Angeles Lakers because his family has a home in the city, which also happens to be the center of the entertainment world that James has increasingly become a part of.
But Houston makes sense for him. They're playing exceptionally well this season, boasting the best record in the Western Conference. The talent on the squad—including MVP front-runner James Harden (the only person who may be playing better than James himself) and perennial all star Chris Paul—would seemingly blend well with James' game and would help ease his the 32-year-old's nightly workload.
The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks laid out an argument for the move this week in a compelling piece titled "LeBron James Could Form the Superteam to End All Superteams in Houston."
Any move James makes would likely, at least in part, be aimed at beating the Golden State Warriors, a juggernaut that cruised to the title last season. In the piece, Tjarks noted that even beyond Harden and Paul, whose talents are obvious, the players currently filling out the Houston roster also complement James. They have shooters who can take advantage of James' famously great passing and strong defenders who can help save his energy by taking on some of the grueling workload on that end of the floor.
"Even the Warriors seem a little bored this season. The NBA needs someone who can challenge them, and LeBron has only so many years left that he can play at his current level. He needs to go somewhere they won’t be wasted. He needs to go to Houston."
It's still unclear which team is the front-runner to land James. In the offseason it became almost widely accepted he would end up in L.A. "I'm eradicating all conjecture and uncertainty!" wrote longtime NBA journalist Peter Vecsey in September. "I'm comfortable now in stating unequivocally, LeBron will leave the Cavaliers a second time and join the Lakers, and return the team to L.A. Lore status."
But then this season rumors suggested the upstart Philadelphia 76ers—replete with young talent like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons—had a real shot of landing "King James." Now we apparently have to add Houston to the list. And James could, of course, decide to just stay in Cleveland. At least one thing is certain: We'll keep wondering and the rumors will keep flowing up until the day that decision is made.
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