Jeremy Lin

Olajuwon says Howard/Lin combo can be “very deadly”


Let’s remember that big man legend and guru Hakeem Olajuwon is an employee of the Houston Rockets now — everything he said comes with an element of spin.

That doesn’t mean it’s all wrong, either.

After working out with them, Olajuwon is very high on the potential of a Dwight Howard/Jeremy Lin combo, he told a local news station, as transcribed by ESPN.

“Just the little offense I saw, that combination is very deadly,” Olajuwon told Fox 26. “You can see that both of them are very excited, seeing that, ‘Wow, we bring the right ingredients together…’

“To be on the right team, which (Lin) is right now, he can really help and play his role very well and be effective,” Olajuwon told Fox 26. “There’s no pressure on him now. It’s on Dwight and James (Harden). [Lin’s] position is crucial for the team’s success, and he can play that role very well.”

We’ve said this before but it bears repeating (and you can be sure Mike D’Antoni brought this up more than once): Last season Dwight Howard shot 44.5 percent and scored 0.74 points per possession when he got the ball in the post, he shot 79.6 percent and scored 1.29 points per possession when he got the ball back as the roll man in the pick-and-roll.

Howard pushed back with the Lakers about the pick-and-roll, but if he really buys into running it with the Rockets they could have one of the best in the league. “Linsanity” happened in part because Lin is so aggressive as the ball handler running that play (remember D’Antoni was coach), and nearly a quarter of James Harden’s shot attempts last season came off the pick-and-roll last season and he averaged a point per possession.

So yes, there is a lot of potential there, and if the Rockets are starting to unlock it they might be moving more quickly up their long learning curve this year. But I’ll need more than the word of a coach, even a Hall of Famer.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
Leave a comment

Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.

Report: Pelicans signing Greg Smith

Greg Smith
Leave a comment

The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.

Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.

Enter Greg Smith.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.

But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.

Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.