He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not – The pick-and-roll has been getting real mixed signals about Dwight Howard lately. First, he doesn’t want to do a pick and roll offense, according to Steve Nash, then he loves doing pick-and-rolls, according to Jeremy Lin. It’s such a perplexing issue that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst had to weigh in:
I want to offer a third explanation for the Howard-PnR controversy that is admittedly rose-tinted and full of Rockets’ homer bias: maybe the pick-and-roll is the scapegoat. It’s easier for Howard to say he didn’t like the offense they were running in L.A. than for him to say he hated playing with Kobe Bryant. It’s easier for him (and for Steve Nash) to say he didn’t like running pick-and-rolls than to say that Nash is washed up and that it’s a pain to cover for his matador defense. It’s easier for him to say he would prefer to work on his post game than to say he doesn’t want to deal with a fan base that will hate him if he can’t drag Robert Sacre and the artists formerly known as Gasol, Bryant and Nash to a championship. Everyone gets to save face except for Mike D’Antoni (but coaches always take the fall for stuff, so who cares?). I only consider this a possibility because one of the first things Howard talked about when he arrived in Houston was how much he looked forward to running the PnR with Harden. So is it possible that Howard’s pick-and-roll hate is just a smokescreen for all of the real and uglier reasons he left L.A.?
What Ugly Reasons? – These ugly reasons. Take it away, Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea:
Talks with various people close to the situation make it clear there were two prerequisites for Dwight Howard to remain a Laker: fire Mike D’Antoni and amnesty, or at the very least muzzle, Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers apparently asked Dwight to be patient on both fronts for at least another season, telling him “hey, you’re going to have to gut this out another year,” a source said, although it sounds as if VP of basketball ops Jim Buss isn’t ready to abandon Kobe anytime soon. “Dwight didn’t want to play with Kobe for 2-3 more years,” Buss said. “I’m going to stand behind Kobe because of his history with the franchise.”
Is it possible that Howard’s grudge against D’Antoni was for his insistence on running the pick-and-roll? Very. However, you also have to consider that the Mustache was trying to run PnR’s with three very effective iso/post players in Bryant, Gasol, and Howard, and you have to factor in D’Antoni’s reputation for giving short shrift to defense. It feels like the idea that Howard doesn’t like PnR’s is an oversimplification of all the things he didn’t like about L.A.
We Are Not The Champions, My Friends – The championship predictions from ESPN’s Summer Forecast are in, and Houston is not in the top 5. They came in a distant 8th with just 2 votes in a poll that was surprisingly bullish on the Thunder (no. 2 after losing Kevin Martin for nothing) and the Pacers (no. 3, although I’m not sure they are as good as their size mismatch against the Heat in the playoffs made them look). Also surprising was that Golden State didn’t get a single vote.
Who He Play For? - Royal Ivey will reportedly be working out for the Rockets and the Spurs. My first thought when I saw that Ivey has inexplicably played in the NBA for nine seasons was, “I bet he’s been a contestant on ‘Who He Play For?’” I love when I’m right.
Happy Birthdays! – Today is James Harden’s birthday, and Jeremy Lin turned 25 on Friday. He celebrated with glowing green teeth:
Thank you for all the birthday love!! glad to have celebrated with my bros in Shanghai! #25 pic.twitter.com/cqEpujaZ2E
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) August 23, 2013
Also, kudos to Daryl Morey for knowing exactly what to give a multimillionaire athlete for his birthday:
Happy belated birthday (in Twitter time) to @JLin7 ! We got you some new teammates and a tweet…
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) August 23, 2013
Love that guy.
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