1. Harden on the max could be a do-over of John Wall's albatross of a contract
Harden will be 34-years-old by the start of the 2023-24 NBA season. A four-year max would mean that "Uno" will be making an annual number of $50 million at age 38.
Harden's number of games missed figures to increase as he ages, much like it's already done. What good would it do the Rockets if they're having to find a way to replace Harden's production for 30+ games each season?
Such a contract would be reminiscent of the exact contract that John Wall received with the Washington Wizards. You know, the same contract that the Rockets tried moving, to no avail, because no one in the league was interested in inheriting it?
The Rockets ultimately had to buy out Wall because the contract was deemed untradeable. Well, untradeable without attaching draft picks or assets.
And a young rebuilding team like the Rockets is better-served trading draft picks for players that can become difference-makers and contributors, not for absolving themselves of their past sins. Such a deal for Harden would violate former Rockets GM Daryl Morey's school of thought: never sign a player to a deal that can't be moved in the future.
Sure, Harden can still play at this stage of his career, but the signs of wear and tear are impossible to ignore. The former iron man has begun to rack up injuries that have caused him to miss a considerable amount of games.
In fact, this past season Harden was only available for 58 of a potential 82 games. Last season he played in just 65 games, and he played in just 44 games in 2020-21.
Part of having cap space is knowing which deals to not make and knowing how to wisely spend your money and the Rockets would be unwise to have themselves tied to a max deal for the next four years for an aging player with very little tread on the tires and an inability to stay healthy.