After nearly besting the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last season, the Houston Rockets had a path to signing LeBron James in free agency. It was a complicated path, but a path nonetheless.
Unfortunately for Houston, that dream died once James opted out of his contract and committed to signing with the Los Angeles Lakers on the first day of free agency. In fact, it might have even been dead before then.
According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, James never even seriously thought about joining the Rockets with his longtime friend Chris Paul:
In the Rockets’ case, they coveted James as a free agent. Paul openly campaigned for his friend James to join him and James Harden in Houston, though the Rockets would have had to clear major cap space to make it happen. James never considered the Rockets and announced on July 1 he was joining the Lakers.
Update: James confirmed as much while in Houston.
LeBron James on how much consideration he gave to joining the Houston Rockets this offseason: “Not much”— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 13, 2018
Welp. Add Houston to the group of teams James left on read, along with the Denver Nuggets.
At the time, the Rockets seemed like the most sensible option for James outside of the Philadelphia 76ers if he wanted a shot at the dethroning the Golden State Warriors. Now, it’s even harder to imagine he regrets not forcing his way to Houston.
With over a quarter of the season in the books, the Rockets are 11-13. Last season, the Rockets didn’t lose their 13th game until Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, the Lakers sit at the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference with a 15-10 record, two games back of the No. 1 seeded Denver Nuggets.
Would that be the case if James wasn’t on the Lakers? Probably not.
Would the Rockets be in the position they’re in if they had James on their roster? It’s unlikely.
Regardless, James made the decision to sign with the 35-win Lakers over “win-now” teams like Houston, and so far it’s looking like he made the right call.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.