2. Kyrie Irving
At first glance, this name seems unrealistic. And understandably so.
The Dallas Mavericks went all in to acquire Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline and surely don't want to be left hanging at the altar, as they jettisoned away many of the necessary championship ingredients to get Irving.
But nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Kyrie Irving, so it shouldn't be viewed as a guarantee that he stays in Dallas. In fact, much of the talk surrounding Irving prior to being dealt to Dallas centered around him potentially joining the Los Angeles Lakers, who opted to trade for D'Angelo Russell and could choose to give Russell a new contract at the end of the season.
But if there's one thing we do know about Irving, it's that he wants the bag. And the Rockets have the ability to give him that and find themselves desperate to get back into basketball relevancy.
And the connections are there between Irving and the Rockets franchise. For starters, new Rockets coach Ime Udoka was an assistant on the Brooklyn Nets' staff in 2020-21 when Irving was there.
During that season, Irving was both an All-Star and All-NBA member, so Udoka saw up close and personal what Irving can contribute on the floor. The Rockets could also use a veteran presence with championship experience, like Irving.
And let's not forget what Irving previously said about Rockets guards Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
Green detailed that he and Irving have maintained a relationship since Green's prep days while marveling at what all Irving has in his arsenal.
“Kyrie Irving communicated with me here and there since high school. He was making everything, stop and pop 3s, getting to the rim. He’s so wiggly, getting downhill. Everything you see on TV, highlights and stuff, was right there in front of me. It was crazy to see.”
Based on Irving's ties to members of the Rockets' franchise and the Rockets' ability to give Irving a max contract, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Rockets turned to him, in the event that Harden stays in Philadelphia.