Sunday , Jul , 01 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Houston Rockets And Rashard Lewis An Unlikely Match

The free agent season began with the Rockets expressing interest in Houston-native Rashard Lewis … The forward would look great next to Yao & T-Mac, but is a sign-and-trade realistic? … Click here for news and analysis …

The Associated Press reports that Houston will take a run at free agent Rashard Lewis:

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Saturday night that the club is "going after Rashard," the SuperSonics forward who attended high school in suburban Houston and is considered one of the NBA’s most attractive free agents this summer.

"We really want him," Morey told Houston television station KRIV-TV. "We think he would be a significant player for us. Rashard would have to be motivated to come."

Lewis, who turns 28 in August, left $21 million behind by opting out of the final two years of his Seattle contract. The Sonics are the only team that can offer Lewis a six-year contract and the maximum salary allowed under the league’s salary cap.

Morey told KRIV that in order for Lewis to land in Houston, "it has to be through a sign and trade."

Lewis, who has spent all nine of his NBA seasons in Seattle, averaged 22.4 points and 6.6 rebounds last season.

My Quick Take: heading home to is an interesting idea. However, general managers, agents, and players kick around many ideas during the first few hours of free agency.

And lots of those ideas could also be characterized as interesting. However, Lewis would probably be open to signing with the Rockets.

The forward was born and raised in a Houston suburb. Signing with H-Town would give Lewis the opportunity to play in front of family and friends.

Houston’s also a desirable destination for NBA players. During the off-season, many pros reside in the southern city, so Lewis would be going somewhere chic. This is a small factor, but a factor nonetheless.

Elite teams have three legitimate stars. San Antonio won an NBA Title with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Phoenix still has Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, and Amare Stoudemire.

The Rockets already have two frontline players: and . Lewis has done the math. He knows Houston would become very competitive with him as their third star.

However, there’s a significant roadblock-the salary cap. The Rockets have 62 million dollars committed to player salaries for next season. They’re hesitant to go over the cap for Lewis-or any player-because then they’ll have to pay the luxury tax.

The Associated Press mentioned that a sign-and-trade is the only option. Lewis is opting out of the final two years of his contract and leaving 21 million dollars on the table. He wants a significant raise. This makes a sign-and-trade with any team difficult.

And Houston, at least on-paper, lacks the parts to complete a sign-and-trade.  Who would Seattle want back from the Rockets? Yao and McGrady are unavailable. The veterans on Houston’s roster have little upside. There are no prospects. And there are no expiring contracts to match with Lewis’ salary.

I think a third team would have to be involved for Lewis to end up in Houston.

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