Three-time reigning NBA scoring champion James Harden reported to the Houston Rockets training camp Tuesday with coach Stephen Silas confident he can build a successful relationship with the superstar guard.
Harden, the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player, has been unhappy at being the centerpiece in the Rockets’ rebuild and is faced with a new coach, general manager and nine recent arrivals, including John Wall arriving from Washington in a deal for 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
Harden had reportedly been linked to wanting a deal to the Brooklyn Nets to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but the Rockets wanted so much in return for the NBA’s top scorer that no club was likely to make such an offer.
That had left Harden unhappy and he was absent for the first three days of Rockets’ workouts before he was tested for Covid-19 as part of the NBA’s safety protocol Wednesday.
Harden could practice with the Rockets ahead of their pre-season opener on Friday at Chicago.
“That’s pretty much all I know,” Silas said. “Him getting tested in Houston is good for everybody.”
The Rockets began workouts on Sunday and Silas said on Monday there was no timetable for disgruntled Harden to arrive, calling his absence a “setback”, but Silas was hopeful of building a relationship, saying he had not spoken with Harden to give him some “space.”
“Trust is built day to day and once the relationship begins, we’ll begin that process of trust,” Silas said.
“Obviously, there wasn’t a great start to it, but that’s the NBA. The NBA is not going to be roses every day.”
Silas was named coach of the Rockets six weeks ago as part of major changes in the organization.
The team has a new general manager in Rafael Stone, who replaced Daryl Morey, the new Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations, and has nine new faces from last season.
Harden’s arrival came as ESPN reported he has made it known he would welcome a trade to Philadelphia, which boasts Cameroon big man Joel Embiid and Australian guard Ben Simmons as well as Morey.
Silas said Harden should be able to quickly absorb what the Rockets have done over the first three days of practice.
“Elite players have a way of learning fast, fitting in and making everyone better,” Silas said. “There will be some sort of learning curve.”