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Houston Rockets Targeting Carmelo Anthony After Luc Mbah A Moute Signs With Los Angeles Clippers

By Fitzgerald Cecilio
on Jul 10, 2018 11:28 PM EDT
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Carmelo Anthony
The Houston Rockets are now eyeing Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony after losing Luc Mbah a Moute to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder is expected to part ways with Anthony in the summer. (Photo : NBA | YouTube)

After losing another key player in their run to the Western Conference Finals, the Houston Rockets have joined the chase for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Rockets lost small forward Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency after he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Days before Mbah a Moute's departure, the Rockets lost Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns.

Ariza inked a one-year, $15 million contract with the Suns. Mbah a Moute, for his part, signed a one-year, $4.3 million deal to return to the Clippers.

Anthony exercised the $27.9 million player option in his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, Thunder was planning to part ways with Anthony to avoid paying a huge luxury tax, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN.

The Thunder could save around $107 million off their payroll and tax bill for the 2018-19 season if they could use the "waive and stretch provision" on Anthony.

According to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports, the Rockets could pursue Anthony as a replacement to Ariza and Mbah a Moute if he's released by the Thunder. Schultz added that Rockets point guard Chris Paul is pushing the team to add Anthony.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that Paul and Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni was among those talking with Anthony's business manager in the NBA Summer League to discuss his client's possibility of joining Houston

The Thunder acquired Anthony from the New York Knicks via trade last season. The Thunder were expected to contend for the NBA title, but Anthony struggled to play alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

Mbah a Moute A Key Player For Rockets

Last season, the 31-year-old Mbah a Moute averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals a night in 61 games for the Rockets. Aside from his contribution on offense, Mbah a Moute is also a dependable defender.

With Mbah a Moute on the floor, the Rockets tallied a defensive rating of 101.2. If not, the Rockets had a defensive rating of 105.5.

A second-round pick of Milwaukee out of UCLA, Mbah a Moute played five seasons with the Bucks. After that, he became a journeyman, playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Clippers, and Rockets in the last five seasons.

Ariza Helped Rockets Reach West Finals

Ariza helped the Rockets reach the West Finals after averaging 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 67 games during the last season. The 33-year-old Ariza played his last four NBA seasons with the Rockets, where he averaged 12.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 three-pointers and 1.8 steals in 310 games.

A 43rd overall pick by New York in the 2004 NBA Draft, Ariza played for the Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards and the Rockets in his 14-year NBA career. He won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.

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