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Rockets star James Harden arrives in Houston after delay

Harden was originally expected to join the team over the weekend.

Michael C. Wright

Michael C. Wright

James Harden is back in Houston.

Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas confirmed the arrival of James Harden on Tuesday, saying the star guard received testing at the Toyota Center for COVID-19 as part of the NBA’s protocol.

“That’s pretty much all I know,” Silas said. “Him getting tested in Houston is good for everybody.”

The Houston Rockets participated in their first workout to start training camp on Sunday, and Silas initially cited the league’s COVID-19 testing protocols for Harden’s early absence, before classifying the guard’s situation the next day as a holdout.

Silas said on Monday that “there is no timetable” for Harden’s return, calling his absence “a setback.” After Harden’s arrival on Tuesday, Silas expressed optimism about building a relationship with the disgruntled former MVP. Harden is expected to join the team for training camp once he’s cleared to return, and Silas indicated that he still hasn’t spoken with him.

It’s unclear whether Harden will join the rest of the team on the road for the Rockets’ preseason opener on Friday at Chicago.

“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.”

In Houston, the Rockets are in the midst of sweeping change with new coach Silas looking to implement his philosophies on a roster maintained by a new general manager in Rafael Stone. This offseason, the Rockets lost nine players, including 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook, who was traded last week to the Washington Wizards to bring aboard new point guard John Wall. The club also signed DeMarcus Cousins and Christian Wood in free agency.

Silas believes Harden should be able to quickly absorb what the staff has implemented over the first three days of training camp.

“Elite players have a way of learning fast, fitting in and making everyone better,” Silas said. “There will be some sort of learning curve.”

Under contract for at least the next two seasons with a player option for 2022, Harden reportedly requested a trade earlier this offseason, but he hasn’t addressed the media since September, after Houston’s conference semifinals series loss to the Lakers.

Silas said last week that he hadn’t spoken to Harden since the team traded Westbrook for Wall.

Silas maintained that he wanted to give Harden “some space.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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