The Rockets have plenty of talent on the roster now that Dwight Howard is in place, so it makes sense that they’d experiment with their new toy as much as possible to find the most productive ways to utilize one of the best big men in the game.
It was thought by many initially that Omer Asik would be relegated to coming off the bench after the team secured Howard, because Dwight would seem to be best-suited to playing the center position. Asik certainly assumed as much, and initially was reported to want out of Houston shortly after Howard was acquired.
Howard’s skill set on both ends of the floor — protecting the rim and rebounding defensively, while working out of the post on offense — would suggest that he wouldn’t be as effective in a big lineup trying to defend power forwards, especially those who would be capable of playing the stretch-four position.
But especially in the early stages of training camp or the preseason, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.
From Rockets GM Daryl Morey, via Reddit:
Q: Daryl, how does Omer feel now about sharing the center position with Dwight? What sorts of conversations have McHale and you had in regards to potential concerns from both Omer and Dwight?
A: Omer would prefer to be a starter and is certainly a starter+ quality player. That said, he is a winner first & likes being on a winning team.
Q: Also, what are the chances we see Asik getting minutes as a power forward?
A: Coach McHale plans to experiment with Dwight at PF and Omer as C in training camp. If it works and helps us win, obviously we would look at using it.
There are very few teams (and lineups) that this pairing would seem to be beneficial against. But when you have a talent like Howard in place, it’s worth pursuing even the most unlikely of options.
The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.
Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.
A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.
This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.
The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.
But New York didn’t stop there.
The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.
But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.
Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.
Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)
Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”
That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.
But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.
Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.
What chemistry problem?
There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.
Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.
This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.
But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.