The Houston Rockets have gotten off to an incredible start to the new season and hold the NBA's best record at 20-4.
Playing an entirely different brand of basketball that features a run-and-gun, three-point centric offense under mastermind Mike D'Antoni, James Harden and company have overwhelmed opponents and seem to be a clear threat to the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Although the Boston Celtics hold the Eastern Conference's best record (and the NBA's second-best mark), the Cleveland Cavaliers have been surging over the past month, winning 14 of their last 15 games, including 13 in a row in that span.
LeBron James might be in his 15th NBA season already, but he has shown absolutely no rust or any kind of decline, thus putting himself firmly in the MVP conversation yet again.
Can you imagine if LeBron, who is expected to opt out of his contract in the upcoming summer to test free agency, ended up playing alongside Harden in Houston? According to a report by Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports, it might be a more realistic possibility than you might think.
"While James has made it clear that he won't deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs' season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they'll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance," he wrote on Saturday.
Although James has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers for his Hollywood-linked aspirations, the basketball fit makes a lot of sense in Houston, especially since close friend Chris Paul could also be there if he re-signs next summer.
"All roads lead to Houston with that kind of logic, especially when you factor in the convenience that one of his closest friends on the planet (Paul) is dominating alongside the MVP frontrunner (Harden), who won a gold medal with James in the 2012 London Olympics. As the season’s halfway point nears, no team looks more capable of challenging the defending champs than this revamped Rockets squad," Amick explained.
The front office is also universally respected as one of the best in the NBA.
"They also have a deep-pocketed new owner in Tilman Fertitta, who paid a league record $2.2 billion to buy the Rockets in September, as well as synergy between the front office and coaching staff that superstars covet, led by always-aggressive and creative GM Daryl Morey and innovative coach Mike D’Antoni," noted Amick.
While the team would undoubtedly look a bit different with James on the roster (Morey would have to work some magic when it comes to figuring out salary cap-related issues), the financials could work if the Rockets are able to offload certain contracts (like Ryan Anderson's for example).
A core of Harden, Paul and LeBron with some role players sprinkled in would undoubtedly create a clear rival to the Warriors in the West and would essentially make the Eastern Conference extremely weak in the process.
It's entirely logical that LeBron could stay put in Cleveland, where he is universally-loved and has seen a massive amount of success in recent seasons. But, if he's looking for a change, the Rockets might be his best option from a basketball perspective. Since he has kept quiet regarding his future, it seems as though he will wait to see how this season plays out before coming to a decision about whether to stay or whether to leave.
After all, he is ultimately chasing Michael Jordan and is three championships short of tying MJ's six. Therefore, if he believes Cleveland is on the wrong path, he could leave for the second time in the hopes of improving his title chances elsewhere.