The Houston Rockets entered the 2013-14 campaign with legitimate title aspirations. This was a natural goal for a team that had successfully added two elite talents in Dwight Howard and James Harden to their roster in less than a 12-month span.
However, the team was outclassed and embarrassingly bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the hot shooting Portland Trail Blazers. Dream denied.
Times of adversity will always show your true character, but on the flip side those moments will also allow you to come to grips with your weaknesses.
For the Rockets, one area of concern that may be holding the team back is the lack of a true third option in the lineup. Sure, forward Chandler Parsons is a solid talent and Terrence Jones’ development has grown leaps and bounds. But the club lacks the player who can put them over the top.
Since the 2014 free agency class became open for discussion, Houston has been extremely active in trying to secure this missing piece. But the team may be targeting the wrong guy for the job.
The club met with All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday and on paper he would seemingly add much more firepower to the lineup. However, the club needs someone who has already tasted the fruits of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Rockets need a guy who is solid defensively, can get his own shot without bogging down an offense and has range out to the three-point line.
Enter unrestricted free agent forward Chris Bosh, who seemingly fits the bill.
Bosh has played the last four seasons with the Miami HEAT, reaching four straight NBA Finals and winning two championships in the process. The All-Star forward opted out of his deal before free agency began looking to secure a multi-year deal this summer. Most expected Bosh to return to Miami and ride the team’s recent success. But, now it appears the market may be opening a bit.
According to an ESPN report, the Rockets will shift their attention to Bosh if they lose out on the Anthony sweepstakes. But should the team have already been focused on luring the big man away from Miami from the beginning?
Some of Howard’s best years came as a member of the Orlando Magic where he had forwards such as Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson surrounding him – players who were more than capable of connecting on three-point attempts at a high clip. The presence of shooters on the perimeter helped free up the middle for Howard to dominate offensively on the inside.
Bosh connected on a career-best 74 three-point field goals on 34 percent shooting this past season. The forward increased that number to 41 percent on threes during Miami’s run to the Finals. Making Bosh a good fit for the Rockets is the fact the forward scored in a lot of pick-and-pop situations, and doesn’t routinely command the ball as much as Anthony potentially would offensively.
With Bosh easily being the least appreciated member of Miami’s Big Three, a selling point for the Rockets in their pursuit could be the fact he grew up in nearby Dallas. The Rockets pursued Bosh in 2010, so the two sides are familiar with one another.
With unrestricted free agent forward LeBron James currently non-committal on his willingness to re-sign in Miami long term, the Rockets could have an even stronger opportunity to recruit Bosh before the smoke settles.
The Rockets cannot sign Bosh outright. The team will need to be creative in offering a player huge money this summer, but the club has already reportedly been shopping guard Jeremy Lin around the league in the event they find success in free agency.
There’s no doubt that the Rockets are looking to make a splash and it is no secret general manager Daryl Morey has been longing for a power forward with range on his jumper to join the franchise to put next to Howard.
Anthony and James get the headlines in this year’s class, but you could make an argument that whichever team Bosh decides to roll with may also shift the balance of power in the league.
If the Rockets could lure Bosh in free agency and pair him alongside the dynamic tandem of Harden and Howard, the team could be representing the Western Conference in the annual chase for the Larry O’Brien trophy for years to come.
Anthony was initially the prime target for Houston, but ultimately this summer could become Bosh or bust for the Rockets’ front office.