One way or another, the Rockets might land a polarizing veteran guard over the NBA offseason.

Rumblings of James Harden potentially returning to Houston date all the way back to last Christmas Day, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the 2018 MVP was “openly weighing” the idea of rejoining his old team. The trusted NBA insider sang a similar tune after Philadelphia’s season-ending loss in mid-May, claiming Harden was “very serious” about leaving the 76ers for the Rockets. Houston might have a chance to sign Harden with no strings attached, too, as he’s expected to decline his player option for the 2023-24 season.

But if things don’t work out with Harden, the Rockets could turn their attention to another backcourt star with a Hall of Fame-caliber résumé. According to longtime NBA insider Marc Stein, Houston might consider Kyrie Irving if it fails to bring back Harden.

The Rockets probably should be wary about pursuing Irving or Harden. Both players would come to Houston with baggage and have a tendency to draw significant attention for the wrong reasons. That doesn’t seem like the kind of player the Rockets should want around their talented young core, which is in line to become even stronger with the fourth pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Story continues below advertisement

As for other potential Irving suitors, keep an eye on the Eastern Conference champion Heat. Miami reportedly tried to land the star point guard before this season’s trade deadline.

Featured image via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images