If you’re a member of the 12-14 Houston Rockets, should you be happy? This was a team mentioned as a potential contender preseason that has a bottom five defense, has looked lazy at times, got its coach fired, and on Tuesday night lost to Sacramento.
Now have come the rumors that Dwight Howard was unhappy being second fiddle to James Harden in Houston. When asked about that after the Rockets’ loss, Howard fired back in no uncertain terms, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything,” Howard said. “People make up lies and rumors. That’s never been my focus. I’m trying to get these guys to play better and get myself to play better.
“People are going to say what they got to say to get a story out. People are always going to come up with some rumor and lies. That’s what it is. I can’t focus on that. And I don’t want my teammates to focus on that….
“I want us to win,” Howard said. “We had two upsetting losses. We’re all frustrated because we know we can play better. I haven’t said anything to any reporter or to anybody about being unhappy. That’s only noise. All the other stuff is lies.”
Howard has been the lone Rocket playing hard on defense for stretches this season — Kevin McHale said Howard was one of the few players trying to keep him employed. He should be frustrated with this teammates and Harden for their play and effort on that end this season.
But he’s not going to get a lot more touches, particularly because he often wants them in the post. Howard has had 77 post possessions this season and is shooting 39.6 percent on those. Or to put it another way, he scores just 0.7 points per possession on post-ups. He, unfortunately, doesn’t tune out Shaq and the other pundits who tell him he should get the ball in the post like they did — the game has changed with zone defenses, you can’t just dump it in the post every time down anymore and be successful. Even with his bad back, Howard is more efficient as the roll man — he shoots 58.6 percent and the Rockets score 1.06 points per possession when he gets the ball back as a roll man. But that’s happened just 36 times this season, less than Clint Capella on the same play.
That’s not to absolve Howard — he’s part of the problem in Houston.
But if he’s not unhappy with how things are with the Rockets this season I’d be more concerned.