Rockets practice was scheduled to end Wednesday at noon, so I got there at 11:15am, plenty of time to get settled in before the media would be called in.
I knew I was in trouble when I got out of the elevator and Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin were hanging out in the hall. Practice was already over… ended by McHale early without warning (same as Day 3). It’s been that kind of week. However, I have a feeling tomorrow will be the day we will finally see some live scrimmage action.
What was left after practice? Dwight Howard staying later to practice free throws and Omri Casspi shooting on the other end. No offense to Casspi, but I opted for Dwight.
Those two guys in the middle weren’t with the Rockets this time last year
At this time last year, the Houston Rockets sported a young roster long on trade assets but short on star talent. The marquee name on the roster was the recently-acquired Jeremy Lin (whose track record consisted of a few short weeks of “Lin-sanity” and not much else), and the roster was otherwise headed by the likes of Kevin Martin (scorer extraordinaire and “everything else” not-so-extraordinaire), Chandler Parsons (a solid second round pick with “quality role player” potential) and new starting center Omer Asik (he of the 3.1 point-per-game average the prior season in Chicago). Add in a slew of young power forwards, including one (Royce White) making news for not showing up to training camp, and the Rockets weren’t exactly looking like playoff contenders, let alone title contenders.
The Rockets did scrimmage today, but we did not get to see any of it so we’re yet to see Dwight Howard in action with his new teammates. Here are some videos from Day 2 of Houston Rockets Training Camp.
Hakeem Olajuwon was there again on Day 2 of Houston Rockets training camp, and though we again did not get to see any scrimmage, we did see Olajuwon work on post moves with young Rocket Donatas Motiejunas.
D-Mo called it a “pleasure” and an “honor” that Hakeem invited him to workout with him.
“You see, he moves faster than me on the court,” said Motiejunas. “I don’t know how old is he. He didn’t tell me how old is he. I was impressed. I was thinking he’s like a center, a big guy, but he moves like a forward. There are many things I can take from his game and apply to mine.”
Here is some video of the workout as well as interviews with both Motiejunas and Olajuwon.
There was no scrimmage in practice today, the team’s first official training camp practice of 2013-14, but we did get a treat just the same in watching Rocket great Hakeem Olajuwon working on spin and post drills with James Harden.
I think Harden summed it up best. When asked afterwards why so many players want to work out with Dream, Harden said, “Did you see his highlights? Did you see what he did when he played?”
Good point. Here’s some raw footage of the drills they went through, and you can catch Dwight Howard shooting free throws in there as well.
It’s unclear if Omer Asik is happy to open training camp with the Rockets.
The quietest member of the Rockets during the “Summer of Dwight” has finally broken his silence.
That wasn’t necessarily by design, of course. Omer Asik, who isn’t the most talkative guy to begin with, spent the majority of his offseason in his native Turkey and represented Turkey’s national team in the EuroBasket 2013 tournament.
But the one offseason item attributed to Asik was quite noteworthy. On the day after Dwight Howard committed to Houston, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst quoted a source close to the Rockets’ returning center as saying:
“Asik has no interest in being Howard’s backup or playing next to him.”
At Rockets Media Day on Friday at Toyota Center, Asik delivered his first comments to Houston media since Howard became a Rocket. Asik stressed the importance of respecting the coaches, but he didn’t deny the alleged trade demand, either.
“’I have no comment,” he said. “You guys can ask as much as you can but I’m not going to say anything about this. I’m going to do my job and do what the coaches ask me. That’s all I can say.”
When training camp begins Saturday, head coach Kevin McHale will experiment with two-center lineups including both Howard and Asik. Will it work?
“That’s up to the coaches,” said Asik, who started all of Houston’s combined 88 regular season and playoff games during the 2012-13 campaign. “We’ll see what they think. We’ll start on that tomorrow.”
“I’m a basketball player, I’ll do whatever the coaches say. I just have to be ready for training camp and ready for any changes. That’s all I can do.”
Asik said he believes Howard is the best center in the NBA.
“I think defensively we would be really good [together], but we have to figure out how it plays on offense,” said Asik, who spoke to a small handful of reporters outside the main press conference room where Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin spoke to a larger contingent.
“We’ll see what happens.”
His comments weren’t rave reviews, but they did exude professionalism. And if the Rockets are to give the “twin tower” lineup a legitimate try, that could prove important.
“This is basketball,” said Asik. “It’s business. There’s no emotions in it. That’s all I’m thinking about.”