After locking up forward Kevin Durant for multiple seasons, the Brooklyn Nets have turned their attention towards securing contracts extensions with stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden. With how ugly the Harden saga ended in Houston, it's understandable if Rockets fans could care less what their former star is doing in the offseason. However, these negotiations are particularly relevant to Houston on multiple fronts.

Reason #1 The Brooklyn picks

Even if you're a Rockets fan who just wants to move past the Harden trade, the nature of the trade make it impossible to do so. This is because the prize asset of the Harden trade was not a player, but multiple unprotected first round picks and pick swaps that extend out until 2027. How competitive the Nets remain in future seasons directly impacts the yet-to-be-seen return on that trade. It was already a blow to Houston when Durant decided to extend with Brooklyn, but if Harden follows suit, the only hope the Rockets have of those picks being good are age or injury-related regression.

Reason #2 The secondary benefits for Houston in 2023

The Rockets have a massive amount of cap space set to open up in the summer of 2023. Free agency is a numbers game and the more high-quality free agents there are on the board, the more likely you are of landing one yourself. Harden signing with another team in 2023 means another team will use one of their max cap slots on him. It also increases the odds that Irving is a free agent himself to add to that class of free agents.

Also, Christian Wood is an unrestricted free agent for the Rockets in 2023 and if there are less max cap slots due to Harden being on the market, it increases the odds that Houston can retain him on a team-friendly deal. It's a very marginal increase, but an increase nonetheless.

Reason #3 Chasing one last go with Harden

As stated before, Houston is slated have an insane amount of cap space in 2023 – potentially up to two max slots. It's already a longshot that Harden turns down his extension, but if he does, the Rockets need to be prepared to pursue him in free agency. As of right now, Harden is set to be one of the best free agents in 2023, if not the best. If Houston's rebuilds properly over the next two seasons, they should be in a position to be an attractive destination at that point.

And although the exodus was ugly, we've seen uglier fallouts in NBA history before that resulted in reunions. Harden's kinship with the city of Houston is real and it's on display when he does charity events like JH Town Weekend seven months after being traded. He became a star in Houston and he was there for it during tough times like Hurricane Harvey. If he doesn't sign an extension, it's still obviously a longshot pursuit, but so are all superstar free agent pursuits. It's a low odds game and the odds aren't any lower here.

Either way, Harden's decision here directly and indirectly impacts the future of the Rockets for the next six seasons. Nets GM Sean Marks seems fairly confident that Harden will sign his extension before training camp. He's probably right, but we've seen stranger things not go according to plan in league history.