December 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Houston shouldn’t turn its back on Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard Houston Rockets Unhappy?

I’ve covered the Rockets the entire time Dwight Howard has been here and one thing I can say for sure is that this guy is genuine. What you see on camera? That’s real. That’s Dwight Howard all the time — it’s not an act.

He has always expressed a love for the city of Houston and has been proud to represent it. I’ve never seen Dwight skip out on the media after a loss. I’ve never seen him stray from a tough question. He stays until every question is answered (extremely rare for a superstar). He always praises his teammates and relishes in their individual success. Throughout this brutal start, he has preached about unity, sticking together and not pointing fingers — and he has lived by that.

I’m not sure when kindness, laughter and character became weaknesses, but in the past 48 hours, an extremely speculative (borderline fantasy) report came out claiming that Dwight was “extremely unhappy” in Houston. That has opened the floodgates to the media attacking the straw man Dwight they built up over the past four to five years.

So let’s just go through a few points there:

Is Dwight Howard unhappy? Of course! Every Rocket player is unhappy, as they should be. This is not a team that came into the year hoping to make the playoffs. Their bar is set at championship contention and they’re far below that standard. However, there is a huge difference between being unhappy about losing and being unhappy and wanting to leave.

Is Dwight Howard likely to opt out of his contract this summer? Of course! Whether the Rockets are 26-0 or 0-26, it would be less than wise for Dwight, barring significant injury, to not lean that way. He’s 30 years old and the salary cap is about to spike to unheard of levels, with just about every team having massive cap room. This may be his last best chance to get a new long-term deal. Dwight hasn’t said he will opt out, repeatedly saying when asked that he’s not focusing on that, but if he does, there are financial reasons for it. It doesn’t mean he wants to leave Houston — he may very well opt out to re-sign here.

So it’s a big stretch to take pre-existing conditions (unhappiness and the likelihood of opting out), read this report and say this is evidence that Dwight wants out of Houston.

Dwight himself has blasted the article, calling it “lies and rumors”, and some are quick to point out that Dwight said the same when sources reported he tried to get Stan Van Gundy fired.

But let’s be clear — sources haven’t always told the truth about Dwight either.

Think about it — media and fans have criticized this guy for being too happy. Now they’re apparently criticizing him for being too unhappy.

Maybe I just remember all too well how difficult it was for the Rockets to land a star without tanking. In 2013, we needed Dwight to choose Houston and he left a glamour market to come here for a shot at a title. He knew James Harden was here and that Harden was a volume scorer — this remained the case and you haven’t heard a word about it the past two seasons when the Rockets were having success. His goal and focus has always been to win and while the effort of some Rockets has been in question, that’s never been an on-court issue with Dwight.

All Dwight has done is what’s been asked of him. He’s dealt with injuries the past two seasons and still elevated his game in the playoffs, averaging 26.0 points on 54.7% FG, 13.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in the 2013-14 postseason and 16.4 points on 57.7% FG, 14.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.4 steals in last year’s extended playoff campaign. He’s seen a significant decline in usage this season and has not complained about it, repeatedly saying he will do whatever it takes to win.

The Rockets clearly have problems right now, and that’s fair game. There’s a lot to criticize. But Houston shouldn’t turn its back on the one guy who has had theirs because of some online gossip. He deserves a lot more than that.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
December 16, 2015 at 1:37 am

Dwight Howard blasts report he’s unhappy in Houston, calls it “lies and rumors”

Dwight Howard blasts report he's unhappy in Houston

A report by SheridanHoops on Tuesday created a lot of buzz claiming that Dwight Howard was “extremely unhappy in Houston playing second fiddle to alpha dog James Harden,” citing multiple sources, and predicted that the Rockets would trade him before the year was out.

While the report was questionable to begin with, Howard spoke after the Rockets’ 107-97 loss in Sacramento on Tuesday night and shot down the report (See: video on Rockets.com)

“I haven’t said nothing to nobody about anything,” said the Rockets center. “People always going to 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 so why would I say that to anybody? People are going to say what they got to say to get a story out.”

Admittedly, Howard didn’t look all that happy in the interview. After all, the Rockets gave yet another disappointing performance and Howard scored just four points on 2-7 shooting.

“People are always going to come up with some kind of rumor and lies,” added Howard. “That’s what it is, you know what I’m saying? I can’t focus on that and I don’t want my teammates to focus on that. I want us to win. We had two upsetting losses. We’re all frustrated because we know we can play better. I haven’t said nothing to anybody — to any reporter or anybody — about being unhappy. That’s all noise.”

Howard said his focus is on “turning this thing around any way possible.”

“The only noise I want to hear is us winning and getting back to playing better basketball,” said Howard. “All the other stuff is lies and noise to me. People can save it.”

Posted in Houston Rockets |
December 1, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Donatas Motiejunas cleared to return to Rockets practice

Donatas Motiejunas return Rockets practice

Now for some very good news for a team sorely in need of it.

Donatas Motiejunas met with the surgeon on Tuesday and passed the exam, getting clearance to return to practice with the Rockets this week.

Motiejunas suffered a herniated disk late last season and underwent lumbar microdiscectomy surgery in April.

The Rockets desperately need Motiejunas, who was a key player for them last season when they lost Dwight Howard for 41 games. The Rockets have bigger problems than just one missing guy, but given Houston’s troubles this season inside at both the four and five (when Dwight is out), D-Mo could be a very key addition.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
November 23, 2015 at 12:58 am

What in the world is wrong with the Houston Rockets?

Houston Rockets James Harden Dwight Howard

From the Western Conference Finals to this? The defense is gone, the shooting is lottery-level, the coach has been canned and six of the last seven games have been losses.

MK Bower joins Dave Hardisty at the Toyota Center to discuss the current reality for the Houston Rockets after they fell 107-102 to the New York Knicks, dropping to 3-6 on the year at home. We discuss the firing of Kevin McHale, the enigma that is James Harden and his mysterious effort level, Dwight Howard‘s leadership, the Ty Lawson struggle, the fate of Moreyball and how the Rockets can right the ship this season.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
November 18, 2015 at 9:06 am

Rockets fire coach Kevin McHale

rockets-kevin-mchale-fired

The Houston Rockets have been absolutely awful, but I didn’t think they would take this step just yet.

The Rockets have fired coach Kevin McHale just eleven games into the 2015-16 season and coming off a year where McHale guided the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals. The move was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The current assistants move up — JB Bickerstaff becomes the interim head coach with Chris Finch becoming the associate head coach, according to Woj.

A flustered Daryl Morey spoke to the media at a press conference on Wednesday

“We’re under the gun. We have to turn things around right now,” warned Morey. “It’s not just losing. It’s not just 4-7. It’s how we’re losing.”

The Rockets gave McHale a three-year, $12+ million fully guaranteed extension less than a year ago — and he followed that up by taking the Rockets to the West Finals last year.

But anyone who has watched the Rockets this season knows that something is seriously wrong with the team. The perimeter defense has been atrocious — to the point that at times it looked like the Rockets were not even trying — and the team has lost four straight games, many at home to squads that have no business beating the Rockets (much less destroying them).

Posted in Houston Rockets |
November 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Patrick Beverley: “I went to jail for EZ Tag”

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

If you missed the biggest non-story of the day, Patrick Beverley was arrested today because he hadn’t paid his toll tag charges.

Pulled over this morning on Beltway 8 at Telephone Road by police, Beverley was arrested and taken to jail because a warrant was out for his arrest for “Operating a Motor Vehicle on Toll Road When Prohibited”.

Beverley spoke about it before tonight’s game against the Nets.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged |
November 3, 2015 at 8:59 am

Some signs of life in Harden, Rockets

Ty Lawson Houston Rockets scores

James Harden in a historic shooting funk. Ty Lawson hesitant to be aggressive. Dwight Howard in and out of the lineup. Three straight 20-point losses to open the season. There were plenty of reasons for Rockets fans to be concerned going into a West battle against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder as 0-4 appeared to be on the horizon.

MK Bower joins Clutch at the Toyota Center after the Rockets stepped up big to get their first win of the season, a 110-105 win over the Thunder. We talk about Harden’s funk, what’s gone wrong for the Rockets this season, Lawson’s early reluctance and how some positive signs were finally visible in Monday’s big win.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
November 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

Chuck Hayes is finally back in Houston

chuck-hayes-toronto-houston

Welcome back, Chuckwagon.

The Rockets brought back a familiar face on Sunday, signing forward/center Chuck Hayes before the Rockets were to take on the Miami Heat.

I can honestly say Hayes came to my mind Friday night when I was watching the Warriors absolutely pick apart the Rockets’ defense. The difference on pick-and-roll coverages was night and day and the four spot has been a big problem for the Rockets on both defense and rebounding.

Hayes was once an anchor of a strong Houston Rockets defense, having played here from 2005 to 2011. Hayes left for the Sacramento Kings as a free agent before the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. The undersized center had a deal at the time to stay in Houston, but the Pau Gasol trade fell through for “basketball reasons,” which changed the plans.

If the Rockets were getting the Chuck Hayes of those years, this would be a signficant addition. Limited offensively, Hayes was outstanding defensively in the post against fours and fives and showed a very high defensive IQ, something this current Rockets team has lacked at the power forward spot.

But that was then — can he give the Rockets anything now? Hayes, now 32, has looked overweight in stints with both the Kings and Raptors and mainly played spot minutes off the bench. The Clippers recently cut him. It may be Hayes’ leadership and defensive IQ that most impacts the team, but as a 15th roster spot, this looks like a needed move.

Posted in Houston Rockets |