HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – NBA big men working out with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer is one thing. Having Olajuwon as your full-time tutor, however, is a completely different story.
Olajuwon’s duties and title are being discussed, and he will spend much of the year at his home in Jordan. But he will work with Rockets interior players, as he does with big men around the NBA each offseason, as a team employee.
“We are going to bring him in as full-time as is possible,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Sunday. “It’s not done, but we have mutual interest to get it done, and we’ve had some early discussions.
“We want him to work with Dwight and Omer (Asik), and he wants to do that.”
Olajuwon, 50, has worked with Howard in two offseasons, and Howard has spoken about training with him again, this time as the latest in the line of Rockets All-Star centers.
“He has improved so much,” Olajuwon said. “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.”
Howard’s physical tools are already there. Toss in some skill work with a master like Olajuwon and the Rockets have a chance to see the very best from Howard, who signed his four-year, $88 million free agent deal with the team over the weekend.
And, let’s not forget, Howard has worked with Olajuwon in the past.
Scores of players from around the league, a list that includes LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Josh Smith, JaVale McGee and others, have enlisted Olajuwon’s services in recent summers. Howard would have him watching his every move now and working with him on a daily basis.
Toss in the fact that Kevin McHale, one of the greatest low-post technicians in basketball history, is coaching the team and it’s clear that Howard will have the best big man mentoring crew on the planet.
That can’t be anything but a great thing for Howard and the Rockets.