Wednesday, it was reported by Kelly Iko of The Athletic that the Houston Rockets, who have oft been tabbed as a rumored destination for James Harden during this summer's free agency period, are now likely out of the running for the superstar guard.

“In recent days I've understood that Houston is no longer an option for James,” Iko said. “I would call them out of the running. From the Rockets' perspective, that makes sense considering James was never interested in taking any kind of discount.”

Though the concept of a reunion between the franchise and its former cornerstone has been one that's certainly generated a significant amount of buzz over the last few months, it is by no means the only route GM Rafael Stone and company could feasibly take to bolster this Rockets club that, by many indications, is looking to put an end to their tanking ways and officially move forward toward more success during their current rebuild.

Flush with promising young talent and in possession of the most cap space in the entire association with $50.7 million at their disposal, even without James Harden as an option there are still plenty of other available players Houston could look to pursue this summer.

Here are two, in specific, the front office should now pivot their attention toward.

Rockets free agent target No. 2) Khris Middleton

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Over the last three seasons, the Houston Rockets have gone on to accumulate 59 wins compared to a whopping 177 losses. During this span, they've managed to secure highly valuable draft picks which, in turn, have translated into promising young prospects.

However, as is the case with virtually every youth-movement club, there seems to be no true leader to help steer them in the right direction. A guy like Khris Middleton could be an ideal fit to not only help aid in their desires to add on established top-tier talents this summer but also to help mentor the rookie-scale players as well.

A true leader with championship experience, the veteran has been deemed by Bucks big Bobby Portis as someone who helped change his entire approach to the game for the better.

A three-time All-Star, Khris Middleton finds himself sporting stellar two-way averages of 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 steals on 45.7% shooting from the floor and 38.8% shooting from deep for his career all while boasting a solid defensive rating of 109.

Veteran mentorship and star-level production are two things this Rockets team is in dire need of should their goal be to push for a postseason spot as soon as 2023-24.

Though recent rumblings suggest he is likely gearing up to sign a new deal with the Bucks, should Houston be willing to offer up a sizeable amount of their available $50.7 million in cap space in the forward's direction, they may have a chance at prying his services away from the Milwaukee's grasp.

Rockets free agent target No. 1) Fred VanVleet

Along with James Harden, perhaps the impending free agent that has been most often linked to the Rockets heading into the offseason has been All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet. Now, since it was reported that the club is likely out on the former, rumblings have only gotten louder of the latter heading to Houston, with Marc Stein reporting on June 28 that the team's interest in the 29-year-old is, in fact, very real.

“I wrote extensively Monday night about Houston's interest in signing Fred VanVleet away from Toronto. This has led to a flurry of informants advising me to give strong credence to projections that the Rockets want to sign VanVleet, who shot just 39.3% from the field this past season and 34.2% on 3-pointers, to a max two-year deal projected at $83.6 million,” Stein wrote.

Stein would further this report by noting that the Rockets are preparing to offer the guard a two-year deal at his max value of $83.6 million.

The addition of VanVleet would provide the club with similar attributes to those previously noted when discussing Middleton, though it would come in the form of a younger talent who plays the game's most important position.

Since taking over as a full-time starter for the Toronto Raptors back during the 2019-20 campaign, he's gone on to post impressive per-game averages of 19.3 points, 6.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals while shooting a rather efficient 36.7% from deep.

With the Raptors in limbo when it comes to whether they plan to remain competitive or commit to a rebuild this summer (as some believe they should), there seems to be a strong possibility that Fred VanVleet could wind up leaving Toronto for greener pastures.

With their ample cap space and reported desire to start competing, the Rockets could prove to be an ideal landing spot.