Style Changes On Tap For Rockets

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The most intriguing question about what should be the most intriguing team in the NBA this season has already been answered by the one man who will have the most control over the situation.

Coach Kevin McHale — not Dwight Howard, James Harden or Jeremy Lin — will have the final say on how the Houston Rockets play now that Howard is in the mix. If McHale decides that the Dwight-in-the-middle approach that helped the Orlando Magic to The Finals in 2009 is the way to go, it will be. But if he has other plans, that’s his call, too.

Howard’s coach in Los Angeles last season, Mike D’Antoni, made it clear that he would not change his style fit his superstar personnel. We all know how that turned out for the Lakers.

There will be style changes for the Rockets this season and McHale is already laying the groundwork in advance of the start of training camp. He went into detail with Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Q. A lot of last season’s success was based on the team’s clearly understanding how it needed to play. Can there be carryover, or do you have to change how this team needs to play?

A. I think we’re going to play basically the same style. We have to get better defensively, and with Dwight we have to have more of an emphasis on trying to get the ball in the post. Through Dwight running and Dwight doing different things, I think we can do that without really having to change our identity. We still want to get the ball up and down the floor. We still want to be aggressive and run and attack offensively. I think we have two of the top rim protectors in Dwight and Omer [Asik], so we have to use those guys. I’d like to use them together. It gives us a chance to have a defensive presence and run off our defense a little more. Our style will change a little bit because our personnel changes, but it won’t change dramatically. At least I hope it doesn’t.

Q. You put so much emphasis on spacing the floor last season with range shooting. Are you confident you can play Dwight and Omer together?

A. I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Your job is to try to put your best players on the floor. Omer is one of our best players. We have to figure out how we’re going to get him on the floor. That’s going to be a big thing where we’re able to get them on the floor together. We’ll rebound very well. They have to space each other. There’s going to be some challenges. I’m really looking forward to see. I want it to work. We’ll see if it does work.

Even better than McHale’s brutal honesty about how things will have to change for the Rockets is his no-nonsense approach for Asik (or anyone else) who isn’t ready to adapt to whatever style changes are coming:

Q. Have you had a chance to see how Omer feels about the addition of Dwight?

A. I have not.

Q. Are you concerned about how he reacts to all this? There were indications he was not happy about having another center coming in.

A. I didn’t know Omer was the general manager. That surprises me. He’s a player. His job is to come in and play. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with him about all that, but Daryl (Morey‘s) job is to try to improve the team. Omer’s job is not to wonder how that affects him. His job is to figure out how they can play together and be effective.

If things don’t go as planned this season in Houston, it won’t be for the lack of clarity on the front end. McHale’s making it easy for everyone on the roster to stay in their lanes this season and let things evolve naturally.

Any tweaks to the way the Rockets play will handled accordingly, by the man in charge.


  1. The Beard says:


  2. The Beard says:

    This could potentially play out the same way Pau and Dwight had trouble playing together, only time will tell so stop talking and let it happen!

  3. celentano says:

    Ohw! When delusional Rocketfans dreaming further about the finals,Harden has to proof a lot more during play-offs.
    Remenber last time what happend?Regular season is not enough thus.

  4. celentano says:

    3 words “HACK A DWIGHT” and everything falls into the right places after a while>>>>>>>>>>> DW; trade me i demand it!

  5. John says:

    McHale was a basketball superstar and a good coach. However, the Rockets will live and die at the point…the two trees will learn to play together or Kevin will bench one of them…simple as that…the POINT is, well the key…

  6. Flying Dutchman says:

    I hope that Terrence Jones or Donatas can fill the four like Otis did. Omer and Dwight at the same time isn’ t going to work. Also curious if Lin can be the sixth man. All great contenders have someone special off the bench. If Lin can lead the second unit with Omer he’ ll have the ball in his hands and doesn’ t have to share it with JH.
    Beverly is a better defender and is useful without the ball in his hands. You’ ll have a better balanced starting five with JH and Dwight who command the most touches. Beverly, Parsons and whoever is going to play the 4 have to be roleplayers with enough threat to spread the floor.

    Can’ t wait to see how they’ re going to play!!

    • The Beard says:

      T-Jones had a lot of potential, I hope he fits in quickly because if you watch his Kentucky days, besides Anthony Davis he was the best player on Kentucky, and his freshman year was phenomenal, Lebron is a tool!!

  7. barlos says:

    Dwight Howard would never win a ring with the Houston Rockets he will retire without no rings…..

  8. Jay says:

    Great…..McHale isn’t going to change anything! Well, maybe if he actually draws up a gameplan besides playing his BEST players for 40+ minutes and shoot threes this would be good news. #dissapointedfan

  9. BOOOOMMM says:

    It is going to be tough to play 2 big men with offensive games limited to the paint together. Neither Dwight or Asik can step out and hit the J. I know this would not actually happen, but a trade that would help both teams would be trading Asik to Atlanta for Paul Milsap. Al Horford has said numerous times that he wants a true center so he can move back to the 4 and the Rockets are in need of a solid starting power forward. Milsap could space the floor because he has a reliable jumper and Asik and Horford would make an excellent 1-2 punch at the 4 and 5.

  10. Bird33 says:

    Well said Kevin. Let them know who’s boss. And you have the rings and the HOF plaque to back it up. If the Rockets don’t succeed, it won’t be because McHale didn’t lay it on the line and try to make it happen. If the players are truly open to change, then McHale will be the key to their success. If not, it’s the fault of dwightmare, Omermare or whatever cog decided not to fit in. I really hope the players are all bought in – I’d love to see what McHale (and The Dream) can build with those superior parts! Go Rockets and Go McHale – we’ll always root for #32 🙂

  11. No body says:

    Houston will advance to the second rounds that’s all. Jeremy Lin, J H and D W are not enough to advance further, they may need another superstar.

  12. Bob says:

    Asik is one of your big contract stars (or at least, being paid like one). So, I think the coach should have given him proper respect and should have given him his new expectations for his new role. Personally, I don’t see Omer and DH playing together in the post. The Twin Towers didn’t last long in Houston. Sampson was traded to open it up for Hakeem. I see a small ball line up torching the Towers line up. Long shots equal long rebounds; and that will be a problem. The frontcourt chemistry will suffer like….. last years Laker team.
    Then, the tears will flow and the drama begins

  13. Roy says:

    lol who cares about Asik and if he wants to play or even GETS to play. You guys just picked up the best center in the leauge by miles. I hope they keep the up tempo style, I think Dwight will suit a crash the boards and block style a lot more. No point in slowing down the tempo by 70% to watch Dwight fail to score points with post moves.

    That’s just my thoughts right now, I know he’s been working with McHale and Hakeem in the offseason but really how much can they help him? He’s been in the league for 9 years now and still struggles to live up to his offensive potential.

  14. Bill says:

    Interesting article. I also enjoyed McHale’s candor. No mincing words or “careful” answers which is refreshing.

    No one is paying me to coach an NBA team but I really can’t imagine how an NBA can have two 7-footers with limited offensive games on the floor together. Asik will not have to be guarded if he floats out of the paint and Howard will not be effective unless he can plant himself the block or in front of the rim. You can’t have both down there together since that destroys spacing.

    It sure didn’t work very well with Howard and Gasol last year and Gasol is infinitely more talented offensively than Asik.

    A related question in my mind is why can’t some NBA big men, Howard and Asik to name two, develop a reliable mid-range jumper (or the ability to shoot free throws)?

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing how things develop in Houston this season and whether Howard can get his career back on track by actually adapting his game to his team mates and the coach’s system. What McHale said about Asik applies equally to Howard (or at least it should).

  15. 1 ring says:

    The new just came in, dwights fired kevin mchale and demanding a trade haha!

  16. DELANEYD45 says:

    Houston should be a much improved team next season, however, the bench need some improvements. Howard clearly did not fit well in LA, the expectations were extremely high and playing with a stubborn, high profile player such as Kobe along with a coach that does not make adjustments to accommodate the talent he’s coaching made life a little difficult for Howard. One thing that Howard should be aware of is teams and especially the Lakers will do everything to defeat the Rockets and Howard should be aware that more fouls would happen because of his free throw percentage. Howard may be in a better place but it will come with a challenge.

  17. Houston Royal fan says:

    looks like Kevin Mchale is looking to build the houston “twin towers” again
    just like the – “hakeem olajuwon and otis thorpe” era
    this time we’ll see the – “howard and asik”
    I guess someone has to start practice mid range jump shooting ^^

  18. HeatSince95' says:

    “Also,Omer? STFU and stop crying ya little…” -Kevin Mchale

  19. HeatSince95' says:

    “Dwight. Get your S#!+ together and ball.” -Kevin Mchale

  20. Zacula says:

    McHale is right…. Omer is not the GM…. Dwight is.

  21. ripistons says:

    You can look into Omer & Dwight playing together in different angles, one of them is that the opposition would have 2 guys that they can hack, not just 1. That would be quite interesting to watch I guess

  22. Lexius says:

    When ever another super star signs with a team that already has a superstar, its most likely the original superstar should be in the helm leading the team and not the other way round.

    Dwight should be side kick for James Harden in my books, Shaq+Kobe , Wade + LeBron etc…
    Getting not enough touches and playing through Dwight like when he was in the Magic days are longgg gone… You choosed to be traded , you choosed to sign on a Team that has a emerging superstar you live with your consquences and live up to your contract !

  23. Okay, I respected McHale as a player, but LIKE him as a coach. The Omer-GM answer was the best exchange of its sort I’ve ever read.

  24. Eaham says:

    dwight is on his 3rd team, he should just shutip and play now

  25. Mark says:

    I hope it goes well for the sake of one person – Kevin McHale.

  26. LongTimeNBAfan says:

    I can already hear Dwight complaining about the amount of times he touches the ball.

    • Chris says:

      Actually, if you recall Dwight never directly complained about his lack of touches. Remembering his dominating skills while in Orlando no one really talked about his number of touches. I think this will also be the case in Houston since he willingly went there.

      • ripistons says:

        No, he was complaining a lot in Orlando as well. Don’t you remember his altercations with Stan ? Don’t you remember his look on the face when he wasn’t getting the ball ? It happened a lot in Orlando as well. He was right about lack of touches in Orlando in some games though. They were trigger happy, shooting excessive number of 3s sometimes…

      • Chris says:

        Nearing the end of his tenure in Orlando, he was unhappy, but he wasn’t directly complaining to the media about his lack of touches. Even I agree that he didn’t handle his final years in Orlando well. I still don’t see him in the asme way. I too used to see Dwight as a happy-go-lucky superstar and it may take years before I see him under the same light, but he isn’t the complaining type and now that he has signed with a personally chosen team, I doubt he will make such a news storm as he did in Orlando

  27. nahor88 says:

    Asik is honestly a bigger storyline than Dwight, how he’s gonna function having just been the starting center for a play-off team, nominee for most improved player, he could definitely start on at least 80% of other teams.
    Both guys are gonna have to make compromises if this is gonna work.

  28. celentano says:

    Just 3 words “HACK A DWIGHT”!!!lol.

  29. celentano says:

    Dwights future; within 2 years demands a trade for sure!

  30. mee(a)t says:

    Lol at the Asik-general manager comment