The Rockets have reportedly talked to Miami as they seek another perimeter defender, and salary cap expert Albert Nahmad believes James Johnson would be a better fit in Houston than Tyler Johnson (Twitter link).
James Johnson’s .308 shooting percentage from 3-point range prevents him from being a perfect replacement for Trevor Ariza, but his physical brand of defense and his ability to guard several positions could be just what the Rockets need, Nahmad suggests. He also describes James Johnson, who averaged a career-best 12.8 and 10.8 PPG during his two seasons with Miami, as “a sneaky good offense creator in short bursts.”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently reported that the Rockets have reached out to several teams about adding a wing player and are willing to offer Ryan Anderson and their 2019 first-round pick to the Hawks in exchange for Kent Bazemore. He also said there have been conversations between Houston and Miami, suggesting that the same package could be available for Tyler Johnson.
Nahmad doesn’t see that as a deal the Heat would accept because they would be taking on money by adding Anderson and Houston’s draft pick isn’t likely to be high enough to make it worthwhile (Twitter link). The offer sheet that the Heat matched in 2016 for the fourth-year guard begins to balloon in the upcoming season, with a salary of $19,245,370 in each of the next two years. That’s still a little cheaper than Anderson, who has two seasons and nearly $41.7MM left on his current deal.
Houston’s offer wouldn’t be enough to get Miami to part with James Johnson either, Nahmad tweets, and the Heat would have to include something else in the deal to make salaries match because his salary is only $14.65MM. Miami would like to get rid of Dion Waiters‘ contract, which will pay him more than $36MM over the next three seasons, but the Rockets are already into luxury tax territory and aren’t likely to take on that much extra money.
Nahmad notes that the expected signings of free agent Carmelo Anthony and second-round pick De’Anthony Melton will give Houston 14 players under contract with a base salary around $135MM and another $19MM in tax payments. Clint Capela‘s new contract has $2MM in potential bonuses that could push that figure even higher (Twitter link).