5 NBA free agent targets with ties to Houston Rockets' coach Ime Udoka

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
3 of 6

No. 2 - Kyrie Irving

If the Rockets fail to acquire Harden this off-season, they seemingly have a backup plan ready to pivot to in Kyrie Irving. According to veteran NBA insider Marc Stein (subscription required), the Rockets could weigh making a run at Irving if their Harden plans fall through. While it seems likely that Irving will stick around with the Dallas Mavericks on a new long-term deal, it's at least worth keeping an eye on for the Rockets.

As a player, Irving needs little to no introduction. He's among the most skilled players to ever lace them up, as his handle and shot-making are tremendous. The addition of Irving would be a significant splash and would give Houston a win-now guard to lead their backcourt. Like Harden, Irving spent time under Ime Udoka as a member of the Brooklyn Nets during the 2020-21 NBA season, so he has experience playing under him.

Whoever wants Irving this off-season will have to cough up a lot of cash. Again, it seems likely that Dallas will offer what it takes, as letting Irving go would be disastrous decision-making after they traded some of their best assets for him at the deadline. Yet, if Dallas did not offer Irivng a deal he likes for whatever reason, the Rockets have the cap space to make a legitimate offer. They need to keep tabs on the entire situation.