Houston Rockets Introduce Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard after workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon: ‘It’s not about emulating Dream.’


Dwight Howard wasn’t exactly receptive to criticism during his season with the Lakers, constructive or otherwise. He resisted playing the pick-and-roll offense that Mike D’Antoni wanted to run, and instead wanted more touches in the post, where the results were mixed at best.

Howard is attempting to improve his play down low by working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, whom the team hired for that express purpose following the signing of Howard in free agency.

While Howard was reportedly attentive and engaged throughout the workout session with Olajuwon and Kevin McHale, there still appears to be a certain level of resistance embedded somewhere in his psyche.

From Jason Friedman of Rockets.com:

“Having these guys in my backyard and have them pushing me to the limit is just going to make me better,” said Howard after his 90-minute workout wrapped up. “It’s not about emulating Dream. That’s the thing. We get caught up in comparing players, trying to do what this guys does just because you work with him. The thing is, when you workout with a guy like Hakeem or Kevin McHale, you take away certain things. You don’t try to do everything they can do. I could workout with Michael Jordan, but I’m not going to be able to shoot the fadeaway like Michael Jordan.

Setting aside for a moment that Howard’s analogy makes zero sense — Michael Jordan, of course, was a shooting guard, while Olajuwon and McHale had Hall of Fame careers playing the same positions as Howard — this is either Howard trying to keep expectations low, or a sign that he still doesn’t get it.

There’s no reason not to try and emulate two of the greatest big men of all time, unless ego is getting in the way. Howard’s history would suggest that might be a possibility.

There’s more to it, obviously, and we won’t know how much Howard was willing to embrace until we see if he’s improved offensively during the regular season. The entire piece is well-written and definitely worth a read — though as a fair warning, Lakers fans may suffer vision loss from the extreme rolling of the eyes that may occur while digesting the article’s contents.

Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer urged Danny Ferry to resign

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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When Danny Ferry’s racism scandal came to light, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer publicly supported his general manager. Budenholzer called the “African” remarks about Luol Deng “very much out of character” and said Ferry was trying to learn from his mistakes.

And while Budenholzer might not have done anything privately to contradict his public statements, his tone apparently differed with Ferry and then-owner Bruce Levenson last fall.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Budenholzer very much owed his job to Ferry. His former Spurs colleague had pleaded with Levenson that the Gregg Popovich assistant was the man for the position. Yet Budenholzer felt Ferry should resign, lest the Hawks be subsumed in disruption when training camp opened, and he made his wishes known in a heartfelt conversation with Ferry and Levenson at that time.

In some respect, Budenholzer was just doing his job as coaching – trying to maximize his teams chances of on-court success. Ferry didn’t resign. He took a leave of absence that lasted until he agreed to a buyout this summer. That was apparently enough to avoid a paralyzing distraction. The Hawks won 60 games and reached their first conference finals since moving to Atlanta.

Ferry’s departure also significantly benefitted Budenholzer personally. Budenholzer ran the Hawks’ front office during Ferry’s leave, and the new owners have installed him as the teams permanent president.

The only other four active coaches with personnel control experienced much more success before getting the dual president/coach title.

Gregg Popovich coached the Spurs to four championships and 11 playoff berths before they named him president in 2008. Doc Rivers won Coach of the Year with the Magic and then guided the Celtics to a title during his 14 seasons before the Clippers plucked him to run their franchise. Stan Van Gundy steered the Heat and Magic to the playoffs in all seven of his full seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, before getting hired by the Pistons. Flip Saunders won more games than every other Timberwolves coach combined, is responsible for every playoff win in franchise history and made four trips to the conference finals (including thrice with the Pistons) over 16 total seasons before Minnesota gave him the huge role.

Budenholzer has been a head coach just two seasons, including a 38-44 debut year. He has done a good job, winning Coach of the Year last season, and he might make a good team president.

But he lacks the track record most coaches need to gain such status. Budenholzer, more than anything, was at the right place at the right time.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.