Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

Kevin McHale has no interest in Omer Asik’s feelings about Dwight Howard joining Rockets

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Kevin McHale spent plenty of time detailing his plans on how he’ll coach the Rockets now that Dwight Howard is in place for the upcoming season.

He’s going to try to maintain the team’s identity by pushing the tempo, but expects things to dramatically improve defensively, and is going to experiment quite a bit to try to find ways to get Howard and fellow big man Omer Asik on the court at the same time.

What McHale isn’t concerned about, however, is how Asik feels about his role potentially being diminished with Howard on the roster.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Q. Have you had a chance to see how Omer feels about the addition of Dwight?

A. I have not.

Q. Are you concerned about how he reacts to all this? There were indications he was not happy about another center coming in.

A. I didn’t know Omer was the general manager. That surprises me. He’s a player. His job is to come in and play. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with him about all that, but Daryl (Morey’s) job is to try to improve the team. Omer’s job is not to wonder how that affects him. His job is to figure out how they can play together and be effective.

Fairly strong words here, but it’s quite possible they came across harsher in print than they did when heard spoken directly from the source.

McHale is taking the right approach, though, in that teams with aspirations of playing deep into the postseason can’t have malcontents on the roster who are worried about individual issues like playing time or anything else.

Asik reportedly asked to be traded shortly after Howard had signed, but the team told him they had no such plans at the time. That may still happen before the season is through if teams come to Houston with offers of players who may be a better (and more willing) fit alongside Howard.

But not before McHale tries to make it work, and while that process is unfolding, he won’t even begin to entertain any nonsense where Asik is concerned.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).

Dario Saric blocks back-to-back Raptors dunk attempts (video)

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Norman Powell – get out of here.

Jared Sullinger – get out of here.

Dario Saric blocked consecutive dunk attempts in the 76ers’ 94-89 win over the Raptors. Philadelphia has won seven of nine and looks suddenly revitalized.

The best part of all this? Saric’s teammates’ reactions – though the actual blocks were pretty great themselves.