What Does the Signing of Melo Mean for Houston and Their Cap Situation?

As of July 25, the three-team deal that shipped Carmelo Anthony to Atlanta has been completed.  Since the trade has become official to the league, Melo is now finally in the position to be bought out of the final year of his current contract.

The Atlanta Hawks will use the waive and stretch provision to free themselves of the Melo contract.  The waive and stretch provision allows the Hawks to cut Carmelo without having to pay his contract upfront but rather stretch the salary over the next three seasons, paying Melo $8.5 Million each year.

Once he is officially bought out, Melo is able to sign the veteran minimum contract with the Rockets that has been reported over the last week.  Signing Melo for the veteran minimum is not only an example of Daryl Morey’s brilliance but an impressive way of finagling around the NBA cap restrictions. Not using the taxpayers MLE (Mid-Level Exception), gives Houston the ability to spread it out over a couple of players and that started yesterday with the signing of 2017 second round pick, Isaiah Hartenstein.

The 7-foot big man has spent the last two seasons playing for the Rockets summer league team and the 2017-2018 campaign on the Rockets G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  The Hartenstein signing was completed with the partial use of the MLE, a total of $838,464 out of the $5.3 Million of the MLE — using such a small portion leaves Houston with $4,461,536 Million to use how they see fit.

The typical Daryl Morey move here would be to save the MLE for a hopeful buyout later during the seasons of using another smaller portion of the MLE, to sign another second-round pick and 2018 selection, De’Anthony Melton.  Once the 3-year deal is completed, the Rockets will have anywhere from $2.8 Million to $3.6 Million left on the MLE to sign another bench player.

Here are 3 Free Agents still available that the Rockets could use the rest of the MLE on:

  • Jamal Crawford, 2017-2018 stats 10.3 PPG, 2.3 APG, 1.2 RPG in 20.7 MPG

Jamal and Rockets

The 38-year-old shooting guard offers the Rockets another veteran scoring guard off the bench.  A journeyman who is admired throughout NBA locker rooms, Jamal could bring more offense to an already established juggernaut.  Crawford would thrive in the Dantoni system and spacing, but he doesn’t bring any defensive upside to the Rockets.  If the gameplan is to just outscore every team in the league, Jamal is a sure-fire addition.

  • Dwyane Wade, 2017-2018 stats 11.4 PPG, 3.4 APG, 3.8 RPG in 22.9 MPG

dwade Rox

Anyone who watched the Heat and 76ers playoff series can see the reasons Dwyane makes great sense for this team.  Wade offers the Rockets an elite basketball IQ, paired with years of playoff experience — Wade gives the Rockets another player to orchestrate and run the offense at a high level.  His game and stats have consistently gotten better in the playoffs, giving the Rockets another strong asset to stock up with for the upcoming season.  The 36-year-old would be an accomplished piece, a player who can aid in the task of taking down the dynasty of Golden State.  His three-point shooting inability would be the one downfall of adding DWade to the Dantoni system but the Rockets can find a way to make it work.

  • David West, 2017-2018 stats 6.8 PPG, 1.9 APG, 3.3 RPG in 13.7 MPG

David West ROX

This move would reunite the Rockets PG back with his old New Orleans running mate and give the Rockets someone with first-hand knowledge of the Warriors.  After spending the last two seasons as a member of the Warriors, the burly forward arrives with pertinent information on the Rockets biggest competition.  Signing the soon to be 38-year-old offers lineup advantages as well, allowing the Rockets to rest Nene and hopefully Capela.  Being able to rest the Rockets bigs and their legs would greatly support a lengthy playoff run.  Easily able to be utilized as a small ball 5,  the Rockets and their fans have to ask themselves — do they believe enough in young bigs, Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi, to not sign David West.

Honorable Mentions:

Greg Monroe, Trevor Booker, Jahlil Okafor