Mike D’Antoni on Dwight Howard: Houston Rockets run the same offense I do

Dwight Howard LakersDwight Howard’s dislike of Mike D’Antoni’s offense is believed to be one of the biggest reasons why the center chose to leave the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets. Howard reportedly expressed frustration with D’Antoni’s offense and coaching methods in May, and he even admitted he wanted the Lakers to hire Phil Jackson as coach after firing Mike Brown in November.

On Tuesday, D’Antoni addressed Howard’s problems with him by making a fair point.

“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni told the LA Daily News while reportedly chuckling. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.

“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league. But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that. But he’s good.”

[Related: Dwight Howard reportedly disliked Mike D'Antoni's system]

D’Antoni, who has admitted that he misused Howard and Pau Gasol, is referring to Houston coach Kevin McHale’s guard-heavy approach, which in some ways is similar to D’Antoni’s. That doesn’t mean the Rockets won’t do a better job of adapting their offense to suit Howard’s incredibly picky needs, but you can see the irony that D’Antoni is referring to.

Regardless of what went wrong, D’Antoni said he was as surprised by the lack of success as everyone else.

“Steve Nash and Dwight Howard on the pick and roll, and that’s what I do?” D’Antoni remembered thinking to himself when the Lakers hired him. “I just thought, ‘Boy, that’s gonna be a staple.'”

Now, Houston is hoping James Harden and Howard will be a deadly combination. While the Lakers tried desperately to keep the All-Star center, part of D’Antoni must be happy to see him go. In losing his center, he also lost a headache that likely would have become a migraine.

H/T Ball Don’t Lie

Will Dwight Howard actually try to learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?

Dwight-Howard-RocketsThe Houston Rockets announced on Monday that they are planning to bring back Hakeem Olajuwon for the first time since 2001 as a mentor for their interior players. We all know what that means — Olajuwom will be brought on board to work with Dwight Howard.

On paper, the move sounds like a no-brainer for the Rockets. Olajuwon is a two-time NBA Finals MVP and one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, so Howard should be able to soak up plenty by working with him throughout the summer.

“(Howard) has improved so much,” Olajuwon told Houston Chronicle, via FOX Sports Southwest. “I like with the Houston Rockets he will get a chance to show his true potential. That’s exciting. The last two years, he has not really been given that opportunity to really, really express his game, his comfort level and confidence. Here he has a team that is willing to do that. They want him to do that.”

Now, the question becomes how receptive Howard will be to the advice. When Dwight announced his decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed doubt that he will actually be open to allowing Olajuwon to help him improve his game. In fact, Abdul-Jabbar claims Howard reached out to him about working together in LA but never followed up with it.

Howard is one of those players that does not want to be compared to anyone else. He didn’t want to be the next Shaq in LA and he won’t want to be the next Hakeem in Houston. He wants to be Dwight Howard. What he has to realize is that he can be Dwight Howard while allowing Hall of Famers to help him get better. If he changes his attitude and is more open to tutoring, the possibilities for the Rockets will be endless.

Little kid rips Shaq for disrespecting Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets (Video)

Little-Rockets-fan-rips-ShaqHouston Rockets fans have quickly forgotten the rough season Dwight Howard had with the Los Angeles Lakers last year. They are looking forward to the future with their new franchise cornerstone, and rightfully so. If you want to know how the city feels about its new addition, look no further than the fiery little fan you see in the video above from ABC 13.

Like many others, Shaquille O’Neal was critical of Howard for leaving LA. Shaq said that he expected Dwight to leave and that some guys can’t handle the bright lights, calling Houston a “safe little town.” The little dude at the 1:05 mark apparently heard every word Shaq said about his favorite team, and he didn’t like it one bit.

“Dwight Howard is the best center in the league,” he said while beating his chest. “Shaq, I wanna say one thing to you, don’t ever disrespect Houston like that again! Don’t ever disrespect Houston. H-town, baby!”

Game, set, match. Shaq shouldn’t even try firing back, because this kid has more swagger than any Rockets fan I’ve ever seen.

H/T The Big Lead

Dwight Howard admits Kobe Bryant was ‘very tough’ to play with

Dwight Howard Kobe BryantAnyone who watched the Los Angeles Lakers last season knows that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were far from being best friends. Howard and Kobe got along about as well as Bryant and Shaq got along during their time together, only the disagreements were magnified by the team’s lack of success.

During a recent conversation with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Howard admitted that he had a tough time playing with Kobe.

“Was it tough playing with Kobe? he said, per Pro Basketball Talk. “Yea, it was very tough. But playing along with Kobe didn’t have any parts of my decision going to Houston. I just felt like Houston was a better situation for me and my career. Me and Kobe, we had our disagreements, we had our moments. Everybody knows Kobe likes to score and there were times we would get at it about getting the ball. And that happens on a team.”

I don’t think there’s any question that Howard did not want to play with Kobe anymore. Kobe stated publicly that he wanted him to stay, but when it came down to it his sales pitch was pretty weak. One report even indicated Howard was looking for the Lakers to move past the Bryant era. However, Howard said he has no one to blame but himself for his lackluster performance on the court last season.

[Read more...]

Dwight Howard reportedly wanted Lakers to move past the Kobe Bryant era

Dwight Howard Kobe BryantThere have already been a number of theories floated around about why Dwight Howard chose not to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, but this is one of the most interesting. We have heard that Howard felt Mike D’Antoni did not give him enough of a voice within the locker room, but did the power struggle also have to do with Kobe Bryant?

According to ESPNLosAngeles.com, Howard and his representatives told the Lakers in free agent meetings that the 27-year-old would have a hard time staying with the team if Bryant signed an extension beyond the 2013-2014 season. In other words, Howard supposedly wanted LA to move on from the Kobe Bryant era.

Sources reportedly told ESPN that the Lakers went to “great lengths” last year to assure Howard that he was the future face of the franchise as Kobe nears the end of his career. However, Bryant has recently expressed a desire to play well beyond next season and even said he will not be taking a pay cut on his next contract.

[Read more...]

Steve Nash didn’t think Lakers had chance of signing Dwight Howard before meeting

Steve Nash LakersFrom the sounds of it, Dwight Howard’s mind was already made up well before free agency began that he was going to leave the Los Angeles Lakers.

Steve Nash appeared on “Mason & Ireland” on 710 ESPN LA Tuesday and said there wasn’t much optimism for the Lakers heading into their meeting with Howard after free agency began, but he felt like the meeting went well.

“It was good,” Nash said of the meeting. “Frankly, I thought before the meeting we didn’t really have a chance. I’d like to think that after the meeting we had a chance.

“Ultimately, I think Dwight wasn’t comfortable here and didn’t want to be here. If he doesn’t want to be here, there’s no point for anyone to be here. So we wish him the best and move on.”

Nash also told Mason and Ireland that he didn’t feel like Dwight was comfortable in the pick and roll offense. Nash termed the Lakers’ season “a disaster in many ways,” and noted all the injuries they had. He says he went through health problems, Howard was recovering from back surgery, and Pau Gasol had foot and knee problems. But Nash was unable to identify one singular factor that may have led to the team’s struggles.

Nash said the Lakers “never found that confidence as a team” and “never found that commonality.”

There were many reports before Howard took his meetings that the Houston Rockets were the favorites to land him, so this might not be a big surprise. But it is interesting to note that the Lakers felt that vibe from Howard, which probably explains why they made the uncharacteristic big effort to get him back.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rips Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard LakersThere was once a time when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had nice things to say about Dwight Howard, but that may have simply been a result of how happy he was to see Andrew Bynum go. Abdul-Jabbar was never fond of Bynum and his work ethic, and he was not shy about admitting it publicly. Similarly, he did not hide his feelings when addressing Howard’s departure from LA.

On Monday, Abdul-Jabbar took to Facebook to rip Howard and assure Lakers fans that the team will be fine without him.

“Dwight Howard is a perfect example of the fact that ‘potential has a shelf life,’” he wrote, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Laker fans should be patient and allow Mitch & company to prepare themselves to do some serious work in the free agent market.”

Howard has said he is excited to work with Hakeem Olajuwon now that he has signed with the Houston Rockets, but Abdul-Jabbar told Arash Markazi that Dwight told him the same thing and never reached out to him again. When Kareem was asked about teaching Howard the sky hook, he threw another jab at the 27-year-old center.

“At least he’d have an offensive move,” Kareem said. “He gets the ball on offense, oh my God, he doesn’t know what to do. It’s usually a turnover, people come and take the ball from him or tie his arms up. Offensively, he doesn’t get it. Hasn’t made any progress.”

Abdul-Jabbar is the second former Lakers big man to blast Howard since he announced his decision to leave LA, and I’m sure Dwight expected it. If he actually cared, he would have stayed with the Lakers.