The Rockets introduced Dwight Howard on Saturday, and while the free agent big man promised he’d keep on smiling on his way to trying to help his new team win a title, he’s also got some work to do to keep his teammates similarly engaged.
Throughout the process, there had been rumblings in Houston that even after securing Howard’s services, the Rockets may not be done tinkering with the roster.
The team was said to be working to trade Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, not necessarily due to their skill sets not being a match to play alongside Howard, but because their contracts don’t allow for a great deal of flexibility under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.
At the introductory press conference for Howard, however, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that for now he’s going to keep things as is from a roster standpoint.
“The reality is James (Harden) and Dwight (Howard) want to play with Jeremy and Omer,” Morey said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle “I’ve been kicked down to assistant GM. They’re going to be here.”
Asik was the one that wanted to leave once he heard the initial report that Howard was on his way, likely due to feeling as though he’d be relegated to a reduced role with what Howard can provide on both ends of the floor. Howard seemed sensitive to this, and is going to do his best to try to make his new teammate feel as though he’s an important part of the plan.
“Omer might not really see the total big picture right now, and I totally understand,” Howard said, also via the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a young guy and he wants to really be respected. I would tell him when I see him, ‘You’ve done a great job on this team. I’m going to help you and this team get better.’ He’s a big piece to us winning a championship if we’re going to make that run.”
It’s early, but the new setting in Houston is already having a positive affect on Howard, at least in terms of his ability to understand his role, the situation, and what’s going on around him. It’s a huge shift from the tone-deaf version of Howard we’ve seen for the better part of the last two seasons.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to make those guys’ lives better,” Howard said. “I realize how much they mean to this team.”