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James Harden finally reports to Rockets training camp

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The Beard is back, but for how long?

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a worrisome wait, the Houston Rockets can finally get working on moving forward with James Harden and whatever that winds up entailing, as it’s being reported that Harden arrived in Houston today and is currently going through COVID testing protocol in order to participate in training camp.

In addition, it’s also being reported that Harden has opened up his possible trade destinations, with the Philadelphia 76ers now on his short list of preferable teams.

So even though Harden doesn’t have a no-trade clause, he essentially must okay any deal that goes through, or the trading team’s gonna say no without that guarantee he’s coming willingly. So while there’s not an official no-trade, it basically is one by virtue of Harden’s star power alone and the extensive player/draft pick ammunition it would require to acquire him via trade.

But before we get that far, let’s focus on that this is good news. Harden is here, he’s going to be with his teammates and new coach Stephen Silas, and if there’s any way to repair this relationship and begin the process of convincing him to stay, it happens now.

Something similar happened with Hakeem Olajuwon in 1992, where a dispute with management led to a much-publicized trade request that made Dream appear as good as gone. But amends were made at the last moment between player and ownership/management, keeping Dream a Rocket and later paying off in two titles.

Now Harden is no Olajuwon in leadership qualities, but the analogy is made because just having Harden back in the building, having a dialogue, just out there hooping with the guys, is the best way to salvage this.

Maybe you salvage it forever and ride off into the sunset with a ring, a la Hakeem. Maybe you salvage it for just the season. Maybe you salvage it to the trade deadline when his value could be through the roof.

And if it can’t be salvaged, you still have the guy here, having those conversations about what a realistic trade looks like for both parties so that Harden goes where he wants and the Rockets also get the best deal possible. These two parties have been good to each other over the years; Harden to the Rockets and likewise the Rockets to Harden. There’s no need for it to end in animosity.

Either way, this is a good thing, Rockets fans. How it ultimately turns out is anyone’s guess.