Now that they have the season out of the way, James Harden and the Rockets can get to know each other.

A team that was called upon to reinvent itself throughout a long season of unexpected developments played its final game of the year Friday night, but Harden, the leader of this new era Rockets aggregation, said the summer offers new promise and new challenges.

And it also, he said, offers memories of what his old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, was in its early years and what it has become – and what the Rockets, in turn, can become as well.

Oklahoma City’s first playoff team, he said, “was one of the youngest teams in the league at that point, and we lost (in the playoffs) in a similar way, in Game 6 at home.

“Now we have the summertime to get better. We need to hang out with each other, work out with each other, and just get better, We have the offseason to actually get to know each other and actually get to hang out and build from this.”

Harden, who had 26 points Friday night in the Rockets’ elimination loss, came to Houston in the late October trade in which the Rockets sent Martin, who had 25 points in a comeback performance Friday night, plus rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft choices and one second-round pick Oklkahoma City for Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward.

That move, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said, put Harden squarely in the crosshairs of every opponent’s game plan. And Harden, he said, responded admirably.