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“It’s a new journey for me,” Harden said. “It’s a new growth for me, to do something special, being one of the focal points of this offense. It’s a great opportunity.”

Morey expects Harden to start Houston’s regular-season opener, a decision ultimately up to coach Kevin McHale. Harden said he’s ready to play, even though he was practicing with his new team for the first time on Monday afternoon.

“I mesh with anyone,” Harden said. “It shouldn’t take that much time, especially with our offense and our strategies aren’t too difficult. I’m a very fast learner, so it shouldn’t take too long.”

Later Monday, the Rockets waived forwards Jon Brockman and JaJuan Johnson, guards Gary Forbes and Shaun Livingston and guard/forward Lazar Hayward, who was acquired along with Harden from Oklahoma City.

McHale and Morey said before training camp began that the objective this season was making the playoffs. That remains the same, although with Harden on board, it seems much more reachable.

“We’re going to be much better this year, and we’ve upped our playoff odds,” Morey said. “Our goal isn’t to stop there. We’re looking to be a championship contender, and that’s going to require focusing on the future, at least a little bit longer.”

Harden started only seven games in three seasons in Oklahoma City, as he developed into an indispensable reserve. Morey, like McHale, expects Harden to make a seamless transition into a featured role with the Rockets.

“He’s had plenty of minutes and we’ve studied him, believe me,” Morey said. “I don’t see it as an issue at all.”