3. Harden disrupts young core development
Currently, the Rockets are in year two of their rebuild and it's been rough along the way, with a few upsides. As constructed, the Rockets have a promising young core of talent that features Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith Jr., Keyon Martin Jr., and Alpheren Sengun, who is a wild card.
In addition to the franchise's current roster, the team is currently in the running for landing the No.1 pick in the 2023 draft via the outcome of the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. If Houston lands the No.1 overall pick, there would be no need to sign Harden.
On the flip side, if the Rockets don't obtain the No. 1 overall pick, they still should avoid signing Harden. When franchises try to lure star players, they deplete their roster of young talent (LeBron James - Cleveland, 2014 Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City, 2017) and sometimes they don't bounce back.
If the Rockets sign Harden this summer, they run the risk of having to trade away contracts to create cap space. The franchise could also ruin the morale that is slowly developing with the current roster.
Not to mention, the franchise stressed the importance of letting Green and Porter Jr. develop as the future backcourt of the organization. Houston needs to stand firm on their decision and continue to rebuild and cultivate a firm foundation.
Signing Harden in the summer will create another project and disrupt the confidence that the younger players are gaining. He could also not connect well with the current young core due to his lack of leadership and or general interest in rebuilding.