Kevin McHale on Rockets: “We can play with anybody”

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Kevin McHale should feel pretty confident right now.

He’s the coach of the team that just added Dwight Howard, pairing him with James Harden — instantly a very dangerous pick-and-roll combo and potentially the best duo in the NBA. Add in some solid role players around them (starting with Chandler Parsons) and you have a potential contender.

There’s a lot of work to do in Houston, but McHale was not backing away from the idea of the Rockets as contenders in a conversation with Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.

“We’ll see,” McHale said of pairing up Howard with James Harden in the Houston lineup. “I’m just looking forward to putting this team together, and then we can play with anybody.”

As you might expect, McHale heaped praise on Howard.

“When he’s physically right, (Howard) goes out there and dominates the game in a lot of ways. He’s a unique guy. He can score 10 points and totally dominate the game. There’s only a few players in the NBA who can do that. He can get 10 points, hold down the paint, block six or seven shots, get 20 rebounds, roll hard.

“He can get people shots without touching the ball because he rolls so hard and is such a target that everyone clamps in and the perimeter guys make shots. He’s going to add a great deal. James loves to pass and loves to drive and kick. We move the ball pretty well as a team and he should fit in pretty well with us.”

McHale is going to have to deal with what Stan Van Gundy and Mike D’Antoni had to deal with in regards to Howard — he may be better on the pick-and-roll but he wants a lot of post touches (he’s good, not great, in the post). Also, how do you deal with end of game situations when he wants to be the focal point of the offense and you can’t have him on the court because he can’t hit free throws?

Still, the potential is there in Houston and I like that McHale is embracing the expectations, not downplaying them. Howard needs to as well — what he does in Houston ultimately defines his legacy.