The Houston Rockets are in a fight to claim one of the West's final playoff spots. When it appeared the Denver Nuggets, currently No. 7 in the West, would kick-start a rebuilding phase by trading Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets, that gave teams like the Rockets hope.
'Melo isn't going to the Nets after all, and in a different way, that gives teams like the Rockets hope.
Only instead of a playoff spot in the headlights, it's a potential trade for 'Melo himself the Rockets are gawking at. Houston GM Daryl Morey talked to a Houston radio show late last week, and via a transcript from Sports Radio Interviews, we learn that the Rockets have a twinge of optimism about the team's chance in the renewed 'Melo sweepstakes.
When asked whether the Nets dropping out of the 'Melo trade circuit matters to the Rockets, Morey replied:
It was interesting how that whole recent episode, how it turned out. I do think that puts us into the game there a little bit. ... We're always trying to upgrade the team and I think [that] worked in our favor a little bit.
The Rockets have frequently been mentioned as a potential rental destination for Anthony, with the idea that 'Melo could help Houston surge into the playoffs, perhaps make a bit of noise, and along the way Morey, Rick Adelman and company would convince the star forward that they had a franchise worth committing to, even if southeastern Texas isn't quite New York City.
But it seems as though before the Nuggets look at rental options, Denver will first extinguish all potential trade-and-extend possibilities. Why? That's simple: The Nuggets stand to get much more out of a trade that includes a 'Melo extension. No one is going to open the vault for a two-month rental.
Of course, it appears a trade-and-extend might only be possible with the New York Knicks. And we know how that's going. At some point, in order to ensure a return on the eight-year investment on 'Melo, the Nuggets may have to open up to offers the Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and other teams will make for a rental ... unless Denver wants to bet Anthony will freak out and sign an extension on June 30, with a lock-out on the docket. It makes for interesting times, and the Rockets have certainly been opportunistic in the past. Stay tuned.