No debate: It’s time for Howard to sit

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Rockets coach Kevin McHale gives brief update on Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard, as usual, is listed by the Rockets as day-to-day.

Like the rest of us.

Coach Kevin McHale says Howard will not play tonight against the Nets in Brooklyn (8 ET, TNT).

Like the rest of us.

The difference, of course, is the rest of us won’t be expected out there on the court for the opening tip when the playoffs start in 18 days.

So begins the annual April debate in the NBA.

To rest or not to rest?

Sit or play?

Momentum or 100 percent fitness heading into the potentially long grind of the postseason?

The Rockets may just have dodged one bullet when point guard Pat Beverley was examined by respected orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and told that the torn meniscus in his right knee would not require surgery. It means that the tenacious on-ball defender will immediately start rehab and could be back in the lineup for the start of the playoffs after all.

So now with their free agent jackpot/All-Star center scheduled to sit out for the fifth time in two weeks due to a nagging injury to his left ankle — a cyst was removed — and nine more games left in the regular season, now the question becomes a variation of an old one from Dirty Harry: How lucky do you feel?

You can tell from one glance at the long, sour puss on Howard when he’s not dressing that he wants to play now. But the Rockets need him to be able to play at the level that made him a nearly $89 million investment when the games really count.

It’s the juggling act among coaches and franchises at this time every year among teams headed to the playoffs.

Certainly we know the sentiments of one Gregg Charles Popovich on the matter: “!#*&$#! Go away.”

But seriously, his Spurs are currently sitting on top of the entire standings with the best overall record in the league in large part because Pop manages the minutes of his players throughout the season so scrupulously.

A result: Tim Duncan was just named Western Conference Player of the Week less than four weeks shy of his 38th birthday.

You can be sure that Popovich will find time for Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to all put their feet up and just watch a game or two coming down the stretch. It wouldn’t even be a surprise if he left one or two of them home Thursday from what is supposed to be a glamor showdown in Oklahoma City, because it’s the second night of a back-to-back.

The Heat have been keeping Dwyane Wade and his aging knees on a short leash all season as he’s played in just 51 of 73 games and he sat out again Monday night against the Raptors.

Teams like the Trail Blazers can’t afford to sit a key cog such as LaMarcus Aldridge heading toward home after they took a nose dive without him following a hard fall in San Antonio.

On the other hand, the Clippers could be feeling good enough about their current position at No. 3 in the West to keep Blake Griffin sitting until he is well past any questions or confers about the back spasms that made him fall to the floor writhing on Saturday night in Houston. They also have to weigh how far to push their luck with bench spark plug Jamal Crawford going toward the playoffs. Griffin and Crawford were both held out of Monday’s win at Minnesota.

“It depends on your group,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “Honestly, if I felt like a couple other guys needed the rest, we’d sit them. I don’t have any problem with that. I’ve done that in the past.

“So far, our guys have been pretty good. They’re young, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need rest. We can get fooled by that as well. It’s a good case of ‘we’ll see.’ “

While the Pelicans are out of the playoff picture, there have been questions asked about whether they should shut down forward Anthony Davis for the rest of the season as he deals with a soft tissue injury in his left ankle. Do you want to get as much NBA playing time going head in or not take any career risks at all with a 21-year-old budding star? After playing just four minutes in the previous two games, Davis was back in the lineup against the Kings Monday night.

For the Rockets, the choice would seem to be no choice at all. They didn’t sign Howard to be the iron man that played the first 66 games of the season injury-free. He is in Houston for what he could do to lift them to contender’s status and give them at least a puncher’s chance for a championship.

A stated goal coming into the season was for the team to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs, and it would seem that could be kept in their grasp with their big man on the sidelines. At No. 4 in the West, the Rockets would have to like their chances in the first round against Portland, Golden State or Phoenix.

Any ensuing rounds would be a step up in class and require all they can get from Howard with no impediments.

So day-to-day.

Like the rest of us.

Then check back in a week or so.

23 Comments

  1. RLM says:

    Keep dreaming you fool.

  2. jake s. says:

    harden should have stayed in OKC… at least he’d have a good chance at a ring

  3. sonofabbas says:

    dwight howard, most ntense dedicated, healthy eating, finesse closer, and team leader …

  4. okc2014 says:

    Houston needs Dwight Howard right now. But injuries come with the sport. They have a comfortable #4 spot. I say keep him rested. Because he could get further injury. I just know there are so many Dwight Haters. The guy is good, stop drinking haterade people!

  5. Erik says:

    People to realise that this LBJ dude commenting all the time is just messing around? I find some of your reactions hilarious.. Keep it up LBJ, “newly refurbished Greg Oden”, haha, brilliant.

  6. Dboy says:

    @LBJ You dont know nothing just stop posting silly comments

  7. FlagGuy says:

    What a naive LBJ!!!

  8. Jonathan Gonzalez says:

    I’ve never seen anyone so ungrateful in my life, I just hope that at some point in his career he realizes that he never played a basketball at such a high level as in Orlando, a team built around him and made tailor and a Manager who knew how to use him and all the pieces to fit a team into the finals. But the city was “not up” to Dwight and he leaves to Los Angeles where he was “not up” to the city and had to go to a team desperate have him, because it ensures presence in the playoffs for the next 4 or 5 years and i hope he does not think in Houston he is the first offensive option, Harden is the first option and for me Chandler Parsons is above him for the leadership on the team and in charisma with the fans.

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      You are one hurt Laker fan man. And you guys are just never going to admit that what happened last year in LA was your own fault.

      You rushed Howard into LA, to fit a completely new system where he went from Superman to Kobe’s shadow. And all you guys did was rain hate on him when (only to your surprise) the team chemistry was off.

      The Heat brought in 2 superstars and an all-star, 3 YOUNG FRIENDS, and they still struggled soooo much when they got together. What made you guys think things would be different for you? Did you think Kobe is just that easy to get along with? LOL.

      I am not a big Dwight Howard fan. I think he did make a lot of mistakes especially in Orlando when he used to fight with Van Gundy. But he is not as bad as you Laker fans make him to be. He is a dominant center. He is an all-time great defender (he used to anchor a very small Orlando team’s defense to make them reach the playoffs, and even made the finals once!). I think offensively he is good but not great. Everyone expects him to be like Shaq offensively. And I think people didn’t watch him enough in Orlando to see that he was never as good as Shaq was offensively. From the very start of his career Shaq had more moves than Dwight Howard ever had. The reason Orlando got to the finals was Van Gundy’s “shoot-and-rebound” style offense. Dwight was never consistent enough to be productive in terms of creating his own offense. So I think the expectations people had of Dwight in coming to LA were misplaced to start with.

      That’s what you get in Dwight. The D is for Defense. You get some offense, but you don’t get Shaq-like offense. So if you want to plug him into a team to win, you need to plug him into an offensive team with some depth. You can’t plug him into an aging Lakers team that has absolutely no bench and expect him to produce offensively. It’s just not what he does. And it was silly that people expected that of him. But then again Laker fans are silly.

      • kobe says:

        DOMINANT CENTERS GET DOUBLE TEAMED ..HE DOESNT..U WANT TO WHY CAUSE HE HAS NO OFFENSIVE GAME..ALL HE DOES HIS DUNK…NO POST UP GAME..HE IS A GREAT REBOUNDER AND DEFENDER..I WILL GIVE U THAT..CMON HEAT FAN…HE COULDNT HANDLE ALL THE ATTENTION THAT IS GIVEN TO LAKERS GREATS ..TO MUCH PRESSURE..WE R SILLY CAUSE WE R THE BEST FRANCHISE IN SPORTS (SORRY YANKEE FANS)..AND HOW LONG HAVE U BEEN A MIAMI FAN..THATS WHAT I THOUGHT.TYPICAL HEAT BANDWAGON FAN

      • DRAGONFORMVP says:

        Defenesively shaq was better then Dwight. Lakers have few good role players on their bench and Dwight has never been the same since orlando, NNL. Sure laker fans are silly but so are people who think Dwight is a center that brings a team to the finals. I don’t see houston in the finals save for a major injury on another good team.

  9. NBAFan says:

    Agreed…Haward will never win a ring with rockets..then will in 2nd round of playoffs..

  10. l0l says:

    Gotta play him sometime… I mean an injury can happen anytime; even in the first round of the play offs and the more ‘you try to watch out not getting an injury, the faster you’ll get one”

  11. LBJ says:

    Howard will never win a ring with the rockets. He should come to Miami and play with the King! We can give the Rockets a newly refurbished Greg Oden back to Hall of Famer status and give them future Hall of Famer Norris Cole for James Harden. They get a young and talented core to build around for future championships and we get a 10 peat right now. Everyone wins!

    C Howard
    PF Bosh
    SF James
    SG Harden
    PG Wade

  12. steppx says:

    i idont see houston as in any way comfortable facing GS or memphis or even phoenix. Why? The playoffs slow down, defense matters more, and Id favor GS and memphis over houston. But wait, blinbury wrote this….oh, ok, never mind.