Houston Rockets to show interest in Toronto Raptors star in NBA free agency

Coming off a third consecutive season in which they lost 55 games or more, the Houston Rockets are expected to be active during the summer.

General manager Rafael Stone fired head coach Stephen Silas and replaced him with Ime Udoka earlier in the spring. This came after several reports indicating that the Rockets want to expedite their rebuild.

According to this note from Sam Amico of Hoops Wire, at least one general manager around the NBA believes that Houston could target Toronto Raptors star guard Fred VanVleet in free agency.

The idea for Houston would be to pair VanVleet with current Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden in the backcourt.

Remember, the Rockets have been linked to Harden on a near never-ending loop in recent months. He starred for the team from 2012 until being dealt to the Brooklyn Nets early in the 2020-21 season. Harden seems open to a return to Houston.

There are a lot of moving parts here. Harden has a player option valued at $35.64 million for next season. Despite earlier reports that the former NBA MVP would opt in, this is seemingly a less likely scenario. As for VanVleet, he also has an option for 2023-24. It comes in at a mere $22.82 million, meaning VanVleet will opt out and become a free agent this summer.

Related: Why the Houston Rockets were right to give Ime Udoka a chance

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Despite boasting a 22-60 record last season, Houston still has a nice amount of young talent. Jabari Smith Jr. was a finalist for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. The No. 1 pick averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. Also, a former lottery selection, Jalen Green put up an average of 22.1 points per game.

It did not translate to team-wide success for the Rockets. They averaged the third-fewest points in the NBA while yielding the third most.

Related: Houston Rockets could trade young star for veteran

A lot of what Houston plans on doing this summer will be dependent on the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. It joins the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs (14%) with the best odds of earning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Given the status of Victor Wembanyama as a generational prospect, this would change the dynamics big time for the Houston Rockets or another team that ends up with the top selection.

Either way, it’s becoming clear that Houston has big plans for the coming NBA offseason. A backcourt of VanVleet and Harden could very well be the end result. Time will tell on that front.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Rockets, check out #Rockets rumors, rankings, and news here

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