Rockets task Olajuwon with re-signing Dwight Howard if they pull off the trade

24 Comments

The Rockets have a dream.

And to keep the dream, should they get the dream, they’re going to use the Dream.

Fox Sports Florida spoke with Hakeem Olajuwon regarding the Rockets’ prospective acquisition of Dwight Howard, and the Hall of Famer confirmed that should Houston pull off the biggest trade in franchise history (and there have been some doozies for the Rockets), Olajuwon will play a big part in convincing Howard to stay. From FSN Florida:

Olajuwon said he has been asked by the Rockets to talk to Howard about signing to remain long-term with Houston if a deal goes through to get the star center from Orlando. Olajuwon, who starred for the Rockets from 1984-2001 and led them to titles in 1994 and 1995, said he has accepted the possibility of speaking to Howard, whom he knows well and has brought in for workouts the past two summers at his ranch outside Houston.

In a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida from Amman, Jordan, where he lives half the year, Olajuwon said the request came from up high in the Rockets organization. He said it was relayed last week from Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones to his personal assistant in Texas, who contacted Olajuwon in Jordan.

“The Rockets asked me to reach out, and I’ll talk to him (if the deal goes through),” Olajuwon said of Howard, who can become a free agent next summer and could arrive in Houston with no guarantee he will stay past 2012-13. “I’d like the talk to be more like real, and I’ll let him make his decisions after that.”

via Hakeem to help with Rockets’ Howard dream.

Olajuwon worked with Howard for multiple summers on improving his footwork and post moves, trying to instill some of his vast knowledge of the inside game to Howard, whose game is primarily predicated on dunking over people smaller than him. There were slight adjustments you could see, like the face-up short-range jumper Howard added last year which he credited to Olajuwon. For the most part, Howard tries not to make a big deal out of training with The Dream, but Howard does obviously respect Olajuwon for what he’s able to teach him.

But if the Rockets complete the trade they’re talking about for Howard, they’re going to have so little left. In a few reported versions of the trade, they would move all three of the new rookies, draft picks, Kevin Martin, and Chandler Parsons. That would clean out almost all the talent the Rockets have, which means next season would be more of the same or worse for Howard, with him as the best player. That’s going to be an extremely tough sell.

Furthermore, there’s a disconnect between Olajuwon’s generation and Howard’s. Olajuwon once had an awful relationship with Rockets management over not contending just like Howard, but the words “brand” and “marketing potential” never came into the conversation. There’s just a big difference between what NBA players valued back in 84-99, and what they value today. That difference may mean the most to Howard. And if he stays, Olajuwon could be a part of it, but the more than $25 million he’ll be getting for re-signing will likely help.

Either way, the Rockets have to pull off the move first.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

Associated Press
4 Comments

It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

1 Comment

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

Getty
7 Comments

The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.