Tag: Dwight Howard

Houston Rockets v Portland Trailblazers - Game Four

Rockets fire assistant coach Dean Cooper


The season prior to hiring Dean Cooper in 2012, the Rockets finished 17th in defensive rating.

With Cooper, Houston improved to 16th and then 13th.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Kevin McHale (right) and/or Rockets management.

Fran Blinebury of NBA.com:

Houston’s biggest problem defensively was James Harden’s total lack of interest. Dwight Howard no longer defends like he did in peak form, so he can’t cover completely for Harden’s disinterest.

The Rockets need a coach who convinces Harden to at least try defensively. Maybe that wasn’t Cooper and will be his replacement.

But when one player ignores his responsibilities to that degree, even the best-designed defenses can break down.

That’s not to place all the blame or even of a majority of it on Harden. He gets a plurality, and let’s leave it at that.

In the Rockets’ first-round loss to the Trail Blazers, Harden actually defended with effort at times, but Portland still torched Houston. The Rockets’ problems run deeper and maybe this is a start toward fixing them, but at most, it’s only a start.

Why are Spurs up 2-0 on Trail Blazers? Thank Tiago Splitter.

Tiago Splitter, LaMarcus Aldridge

Tiago Splitter was one of the most hyped European transfers in a long time when the Brazilian big man came to the NBA — he was the Spanish league MVP, another in a long line of steals from the Spurs front office. Except he got here and didn’t exactly take the NBA by storm. Gregg Popovich limited his minutes and said he’s a future role player in the league.

Splitter has find his NBA game now, and while he is not a transcendent star he is integral to what the Spurs do and is a huge reason the Spurs are up 2-0 on the Trail Blazers.

Last round LaMarcus Aldridge tore apart the Houston Rockets, forced them to go to a two-bigs lineup with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, still shot 47.9 percent and had an offensive rating of 115 (points per 100 possessions used in that series). (Stats compiled by the NBA’s Sports VU cameras, via the great John Schuhmann of that site).

Splitter has drawn the Aldridge assignment this series and through two games Aldridge is 8-of-25 when Splitter is on him. In Game 2 Aldridge was 1-of-9 from his preferred left block spot with Splitter on him. The Spurs have contested 38 of Aldridge’s shots in two games (he has hit 15), left him uncontested for just 10. They are making him work for his points.

So many good things flow out of this for the Spurs. First, Splitter single-covering Aldridge lets the other Spurs defenders stay home on three point shooters, lessening that weapon that the Blazers rely on. Second, those missed shots become transition opportunities for the Spurs, who have destroyed the Blazers early in the clock before their defense is set this series.

Behind Aldridge and Lillard, the Blazers have no other shot creators. They don’t have Manu Ginobili to turn to this series and that depth has been a big issue through two games.

Heading back home to Portland, the Blazers will make adjustments — as Schuhmann noted at NBA.com, when Aldridge curled into the lane off a pindown he got good looks. Portland can’t just throw the ball to him in the post now, they have to have him getting the ball on the move.

The Blazers will do it, but it takes them out of their traditional rhythm, their comfort zone. And that is what the Spurs do well, make you uncomfortable with what you prefer to do.

Splitter is a big part of that this series.

Report: Mavericks believe Carmelo Anthony will consider them as free agent

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks

Tyson Chandler isn’t the only Knick the Mavericks are eyeing.

After striking out on Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Dallas hasn’t lost its hunger to pursue star free agents.

The Mavericks want Carmelo Anthony, and unlike two of Melo’s most-commonly mentioned suitors – the Bulls and Rockets – Dallas will actually have enough cap room to sign him outright to a max contract. But does Melo share share that the Mavericks’ enthusiasm?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

When it comes to Melo, meanwhile, what you hear is that the Mavs are quietly optimistic they will be on that short list of teams granted a face-to-face visit with the New York Knicks’ scoring machine, just as they were with Dwight Howard last summer. The sense in Big D is that Melo will give them a legit look.

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Based on the latest salary-cap projections, the Mavericks could give Melo a max contract and then have $8,476,826 left to re-sign their own players – notably Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter.

Dallas could increase that leftover cap room to $10,444,679 by declining Jae Crowder’s team option (something they’d have to do before free agency begins) and waiving Samuel Dalembert and his partially guaranteed contract (something they said they wouldn’t do).

We’re definitely verging on the low end of what Nowitzki will likely get, but if the Mavericks get Melo, maybe Nowitzki would be willing to take less.

In possibly too many ways – especially defensively, but on both ends – Nowitzki and Melo overlap in skills, and that could limit Dallas’ upside. The Mavericks aren’t going to win a title next season without Melo, though, and he’d definitely increase their potential to win big. Rick Carlisle, based on his work with Monta Ellis this season, definitely deserves a chance to integrate the potentially mismatched talents into a coherent system before anyone writes off a Melo-Dirk pairing.

Letting Marion and/or Carter walk wouldn’t be ideal, but if Dallas landed Melo, it would be much more tolerable. And maybe the Mavericks could convince one or both to stay for a minimum contract ($1,448,490) or the room mid-level exception ($2,732,000).

I don’t know how much better the Mavericks would be with Melo, but they’d definitely be much more intriguing.

Rockets owner says team to go big game hunting for another star this summer

Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets

The Rockets have a big two in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but the owner wants three.

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was pretty clear in speaking to Fox 26 in Houston that the plan is to go big and try to add a third star to the roster.

“We’re going to have cap room to bring in a terrific free agent and I think next year we’ll be a lot better than we were this year,” Alexander said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I think the nucleus is great. I think we have two of the brightest stars in the league. We have players who are going to be much better next year, young guys. We have a very good nucleus….

“We won 54 games,” Alexander said. “It’s tough to win 54 games in the NBA and the West is so stacked, it’s hard. We were the youngest team in the league in the playoffs. Just that alone will get us much better. I thought the team played hard. They did what they could and when you lose the other team was better.”

He’s right on one front, this was a year for the Rockets to be on the learning curve. By the playoffs we saw the old, dangerous Dwight Howard emerge with a huge series. (James Harden was another issue.) The Rockets started to find some footing with their style of play, and GM Daryl Morey has been clear for a while that this roster needed some additions.

The two most obvious spots would be an elite point guard and to add a traditional stretch four. Expect to hear rumors of the Rockets trying to make a play for someone like Rajon Rondo this summer. It is known they want to throw their hat in the Carmelo Anthony ring. If Chris Bosh decides to test the market he would be a good fit.

But getting another star will not be that easy.

To do that the Rockets will have to find a taker for Omer Asik and/or Jeremy Lin (giving the Rockets little to nothing back in return in terms of salary). The problem there is as much as both of those guys bring value on the court (not commiserate with their contracts, but they are quality players) nobody is just going to take on the salary, you have to throw in a sweetener — and the sweetener everybody asks for is Chandler Parsons. The Rockets don’t want to give him up, in fact they are likely to try to work out is the Rockets will decline his option this summer and make him a restricted free agent they will re-sign. They can pick up his option for next year (less than $1 million) but then he is an unrestricted free agent in 2015 and much harder to keep.

Morey is an active and smart GM who said during the first round that he, the owner and Howard are impatient and want to win sooner rather than later. A smart couple moves can vault the Rockets up the ladder, as can the simple fact this team is maturing.

Of course, the other problem is that the Thunder, Clippers, Trail Blazers, and for at least another year the Spurs, are all also going to be ridiculously good. The West is brutal.

Sixers: Michael Carter-Williams has undergone successful shoulder surgery

Michael Carter-Williams

Michael Carter-Williams received his Rookie of the Year award on Monday, after winning the award in a relative landslide.

A day later, he was headed for a medical procedure no one knew was coming.

The Sixers announced that Carter-Williams underwent successful surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.

“The health of our players is our primary concern,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie, in the team’s official release. “There were a number of healthy discussions between Michael, our medical team, several medical specialists and Michael’s representatives. After careful consideration and thoughtful research, we collectively agreed that it was in Michael’s best interest to move forward with the procedure now and allow for maximum recovery time.”

The surgery comes as a surprise, because Carter-Williams finished out the regular season having not missed a game since Feb. 1, and averaged over 32 minutes per game during that stretch. But he didn’t always feel 100 percent.

From CSNPhilly.com:

Exactly when he was injured is not clear, but an NBA source told CSNPhilly.com’s Dei Lynam that Carter-Williams played through some off-and-on discomfort during the season after he was informed that he could not do any additional damage to his shoulder.

Shoulder injuries come in varying degrees, and often times surgery isn’t needed. Both Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony dealt with similar injuries during the 2012-13 season, and neither opted for the operation.

Things were obviously different in the case of Carter-Williams, and getting this taken care of now should theoretically give him ample time to rehabilitate from it before the start of next season. It is worth noting, however, that the team stated that there is no timetable for his return in the press release.