1. Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet has the cache that the Rockets are seeking. At just 29 years of age, he brings championship experience, which should be enticing for a Rockets team that's seeking to get back to contention.
VanVleet has been a part of deep postseason runs and brings a level of professionalism that would help illustrate how to go about being a basketball player, both on and off the court, which would obviously be beneficial for a young Rockets team. Remember how much the Rockets' brass valued Eric Gordon for the exact reason.
VanVleet may be an even better example of how to go about the game, as he went from being undrafted to being on the verge of a big payday.
Like Gordon, VanVleet is a formidable defender, which Rockets coach Ime Udoka is known for prioritizing. In fact, VanVleet's point of attack defense is suffocating and he plays the passing lanes (4th in steals).
In addition, VanVleet has playmaking chops, when he didn't fully get to illustrate until Kyle Lowry left Toronto. But above all else, VanVleet will hold his teammates accountable, which is a necessary ingredient when a team is undergoing a culture change from a free-for-all culture and attempting to morph into a viable contender.
VanVleet was vocal about some of the habits and attitudes of his younger Raptors teammates, which would correlate well to the situation he'd be walking into in Houston. In fact, during VanVleet's first few years in the league, he'd often get on DeMar DeRozan about playing better defense and positioning himself to make a better impact on that end of the floor.
These type of leadership traits, along with the fact that he averaged 19 points and 7 assists in 2022-23 would make for a great replacement option for Harden, if he opts to remain with Morey and Embiid.