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Rockets to hire Olajuwon to work with centers (we’re looking at you, Dwight)

Jul 15, 2013, 10:58 AM EDT

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Hakeem Olajuwon was the center who took the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships.

They want to return there again, albeit with a center who is plenty athletic but not nearly as polished and The Dream was back in the day.

So the Rockets are about to hire Olajuwon to mentor Dwight Howard… and you too, Omer Asik. But mostly Howard. That according to the Houston Chronicle.

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 has become the go to mentor around the NBA for players who want to improve their post games. That means not only pretty much ever center currently in the NBA but also players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

While adding him to work with Howard should certainly help the post moves for Dwight, the fact remains that Kevin McHale and team need to get him more comfortable with running more pick-and-roll — mobility remains Howard’s best asset as a big, yet last season in Los Angeles he was resistant to more pick-and-roll with Mike D’Antoni. Look at it this way: In the last three seasons the best shooting percentage for Howard on post moves is 50.3 percent, but his lowest percentage as the roll man is 74 percent (stats via Synergy Sports). With James Harden and Jeremy Lin Houston could be the best pick-and-roll team in the NBA, if Howard will buy in.

And that is all about Howard, not Olajuwon.

  1. hwatt - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    uh-oh typo. Here I fix: “Hakeem Olajuwon was the center who Michael Jordan allowed to take the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships while he was taking some time off”.

    Just wanted to set things straight:p

  2. rawbbqsauce - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Dwight has already worked with Hakeem numerous times. He still has zero footwork in the post and hasn’t changed his free throw release motion.

  3. jackntorres - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    But Dwight doesn’t need help. He already knows how to get to the Finals, remember?

    • apkyletexas - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Howard’s career FG% is substantially higher than Hakeem’s was. Don’t act like Howard is chicken liver.

      • Anoesis - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        He isn’t chicken liver. He’s chopped chicken liver.

      • trollaikman8 - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        Hakeem hit 19ft fade-away jumpers from the baseline. Regularly.

        Howard has never held the basketball 19ft away from the hoop. Ever.

      • badintent - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:14 AM

        Knosher chopped chicken liver on a garlic bagel

      • redbaronx - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        @apkyletexas –

        Uh…have you ever SEEN Hakeem play???? You’re probably too young to have seen him live.

        The only reason Howard has that high FG percentage is that he has ONE move which is turn, bump-position, and dunk. That works great in the regular season against the weak centers who can’t guard that move, but in the post-season all teams have to do is send another player, or if you’re San Antonio or Indiana….stick with one player!

        Hakeem can show Howard how to:

        1) pass out of the post to spot up shooters.
        2) Learn how to reposition
        3) Learn how to fake and use the backboard
        4) Teach him the spin move and finger roll
        5) The bump and step back jump shot

        Howard doesn’t have ANYTHING resembling those moves. Hakeem was the best center back in his day, and schooled Shaq in his first NBA finals in Houston vs. Orlando with the Dream shake that left Shaq befuddled. The fact that you took out FG% out to compare them, to me that says you’ve never seen Hakeem play….

    • redbaronx - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      You think because Orlando made the Finals in a year when their competition was a fading Detroit and a weak Cavs team means that Howard “knows how to get to the Finals”??? Seriously???

      Just because Philly and the Nets made the Finals in 2000-2003 when the East was super weak didn’t mean much then either.

      Dwight needs all the help he can get, and fortunately for him, Houston has some nice pieces like Harden, Lin and Asik. If Houston goes anywhere, it’s going to be a team effort and total concept that works, not just Howard.

  4. asimonetti88 - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Didn’t listen to Ewing. Didn’t listen to KAJ. Doubt he’ll listen to Hakeem. It’s a shame because the guy could be even more dominant if he did.

    • pcsurfer - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Also, when the all time free throw percentage leader Steve Nash offered to give Dwight some free throw shooting tips, D12 promptly blew him off.

    • daddyghi - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      dwights a headcase.

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      At least Houston will be paying Olajuwan, so he won’t have to waste his time for nothing. Now will Howard actually show up and train with him? Something he didn’t do with Kareem (shockingly), and appears not to have done with Ewing (at least you couldn’t really tell). We’ll see how much Howard really thinks he needs to learn – and if he’s able to make use of it.

    • redbaronx - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      @asimonetti88 – You’re absolutely right. It is a shame. But then again, big NBA players are just like anyone else in a job. Howard might not want to be “the man” and is happy just showing up for work. That’s OK too, because what he does “at work” is exceptional.

      Houston has Harden and he’s got the personality to lead, so this might be a really good pairing for Houston, and a place where Howard doesn’t have to feel all the pressure.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    As good as Hakeem’s footwork is the Rockets should just give him a couple 10-day contracts to sit on the bench and come to all the practices.

    • badintent - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:16 AM

      Nice. Then have McHale tell Howard Hakeem is the starter for opening day. If that don’t light a fire under him, nothing will/

  6. addict2sport - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Remember when Dwight tweeted a pic of him and Kareem with the caption, “Me and @kaj33 together. For many years to come.” Interesting to see how long this team of The Dream and The Dwightmare will last.

  7. miamatt - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I wonder if this means Olajuwon will work exclusively with Houston players, or if he will continue to work with players on other teams. Smart move for Houston if he’d agree to it.

  8. albertmn - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Remember that Hakeem also played with Ralph Sampson early in his career. Maybe they are bringing him in as much to teach Howard and Asik how to play together on the court as they are to teach specific moves.

  9. Kevin S. - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I actually think Dream working with Asik will reap greater benefits for Houston. For all the talk of how raw Dwight’s offensive game is, it has been effective throughout his career. If Hakeem can get Asik to a competent level of offense, his trade value goes up significantly. Owners might balk at paying $15 million in 2014-15 for a one-way center, but if he starts giving something on both ends of the floor, Morey can get a lot more back for him.

    • jackntorres - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      Nobody wants Asik keep dreaming.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        What am I dreaming about? I’m a Nets fan. I’m just calling it how I see it. And I think a lot of teams *would* want an elite defensive center if he doesn’t force them to play 4-on-5 offensively.

    • redbaronx - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      @Kevin S. – I thought you had a good idea with the first part of your post, but then you went into trading Asik. Bad idea!

      What Houston needs to do is see if they can play them together. I think Dwight at the 4 and Asik at the 5 might work defensively, and on offense if Hakeem can improve their passing game, they can play them in high post pick and rolls to get the smaller guys easy cuts to the basket. Considering those cutters would be Lin and Harden??? Wow. They could really have the building blocks of something great!

      Asik just needs to cool his heels and realize that this is a GOOD thing for Houston, and they even might be able to keep his minutes up if they play both of them in a “Twin Towers” formation that Houston played with Ralph Samson and Hakeem.

      I’m excited to see how this turns out!

  10. kb2408 - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Smiling Dwight just wants to have fun. Down the road Asik could prove to be the better center of the two. At least he plays with a mean streak Dwight rarely displays.

  11. daddyghi - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    i wouldnt be surprised if dwight becomes a back up to asik.

  12. dezglobal - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Hakeem was a nightmare to defend in the league.. He was quick and had awesome footwork.. He’s the reason Houston won 2 back to back titles in the 90s when Jordan was playing baseball. If Howard dsnt shut his mouth and learn from this legend he’s an idiot. Great move by Houston.

  13. tbutler704 - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Good luck to Hakeem trying to turn that doofus into a championship caliber player. Dwight Howard is such a goofball and loser, it will be funny watching him fall on his face in Houston. How long until James Harden demands a trade?

  14. Anoesis - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Howard can’t accept that his FG% is vastly better via the pick-and-roll than when he tries to score in the post and he wouldn’t accept input from current and future Hall-of-Famers when he was on the Lakers, so what makes the Rockets think Olajuwon will get through to him? Maybe this is just Houston’s way of further thanking the Dream for bringing them two titles while locking him away from helping other teams’ big men.

  15. louhudson23 - Jul 16, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Be it in heart and determination or basketball skills,Dwight Howard comes up short in any comparison to Hakeem. Like Muggsy Bogues short….There is simply no comparison to be made for an all time great HoF center and the vastly overrated ,mentally and skill limited player that Howard is ……

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