Rockets head coach Kevin McHale made it very clear earlier this week that he has no interest in Omer Asik’s feelings about Dwight Howard now being in Houston.
“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,” McHale told the Houston Chronicle. “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.”
Asik reportedly asked to be traded almost immediately following the Howard acquisition, fearing that there would be a duplication of responsibilities and his role there would be diminished.
The Rockets held their media day on Friday, and Asik was asked about his personally tumultuous summer. But he had no interest in rehashing it all, and seemed willing to at least give the pairing a shot.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
The always-gracious Asik addressed his widely known unrest, offering no comment on his July trade demand that is not expected to be granted, while insisting he’ll be ready to play whatever minutes or roles come his way. After playing with the Turkish national team this summer, Asik was with teammates old and new for the first time since last season.
“You guys can ask as much as you can (about the trade demand), but I’m not going to say anything about this,” said Asik, who was cornered against a wall outside the interview room before agreeing to speak. “I think (Howard) is the best center in the league, and that’s a great addition for the Houston Rockets. So we’ll see how it goes, starting tomorrow.”
While McHale hasn’t reached out to Asik to clear the air, what he has done is talk up the possibility of playing him alongside Howard in the lineup at every opportunity — something that from a basketball standpoint would only seem viable in fairly specific situations, against only a small number of teams.
Houston wants to make it work with Asik, because two above-average defensive big men in the rotation are obviously better than one. But the tough love approach publicly from McHale seems to be in direct contrast to his plotting behind the scenes, even if Asik may not realize it just yet.