Houston Rockets Owner: We Have Cap Room to Bring in 'Terrific Free Agent'

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

Sep 27, 2013; Houston, TX, USA;  Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) and center Dwight Howard (12) pose for a picture during media day at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the additions of perennial All-Stars Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Houston Rockets' itch for superstar talent apparently has yet to be scratched.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander sounds ready for his team to make yet another summertime splash this offseason.

"We're going to have cap room to bring in a terrific free agent and I think next year we'll be a lot better than we were this year," Alexander said, via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports.

The owner didn't view this season as a failure. As he noted, rattling off 54 regular-season victories is "hard" in the "stacked" Western Conference.

The way Houston's season closed, though, apparently left something of a bitter taste in his mouth. The fourth-seeded Rockets were dispatched by the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in their opening-round matchup, a series largely dominated by Portland superstars LaMarcus Aldridge (29.8 points, 11.2 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (25.5 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds).

Apr 25, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) is bumped by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credi

The Rockets showed flashes of greatness throughout the season, which could provide a launching point up the NBA power rankings.

"I think the nucleus is great," Alexander said, per Berman. "I think we have two of the brightest stars in the league. We have players who are going to be much better next year, young guys."

Internal strides are likely to be made for the youngest team in the playoffs, but finding room for external improvements isn't easy. The Rockets already have $59 million on the books for 2014-15, via ShamSports.com, and the financial commitments are even greater given the balloon payments owed to Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

Still, Houston may have a path to landing an impact player.

New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony plans on opting out of the final year on his contract, a process the Rockets are sure to monitor. League sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports the "Rockets believe they can shed the contracts necessary" to get in the bidding for Anthony.

Nov 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) controls the ball against Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons (25) during the second quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US

At least one Hall of Famer has already signed off on the idea.

"Melo would have a huge impact on Houston,’’ Oscar Robertson said, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “If he goes to Houston, they’re gonna win everything."

Winning everything is the reason Howard migrated to Texas last summer. It's also supposed to be a driving force behind Anthony's decision.

If Houston can't get a horse in the Anthony race, it might still have other options to add help.

While Alexander referenced free agency for finding that next piece, the trade market could be another avenue worth exploring.

"The Rockets have reportedly tried to trade for stars such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo," Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders wrote.

There's also the possibility the Rockets will have a splash-free summer. Houston general manager Daryl Morey said a big-ticket transaction seems "unlikely," via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, but added the team "could make it happen" financially if such a player is available to his team.

With a young, developing and supremely talented core, perhaps Houston's best move is to make no move at all. While the Rockets didn't have the postseason success they were chasing, their ceiling still extends deeply into championship conversations.

A superstar addition would certainly raise that ceiling, but it's not a necessary move. That itch may never go away, but leaving it unscratched won't push the Rockets out of contention for the 2014-15 campaign.


Salary information obtained via ShamSports.com.