Skip to content

Kevin McHale still wants Rockets to play fast but admits he will be experimenting

Sep 25, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Newly signed Houston Rockets player Dwight Howard during news conference in Houston Reuters

This is the season the Houston Rockets have to figure out how the pieces fit (and which ones need to be changed).

They have quality pieces. There’s an All-Star guard (and NBA Top 10 player if you ask Kevin Durant) in James Harden. They have the best center in the game when healthy in Dwight Howard (who if he is healthy is going to piss off Lakers fans with how well he plays this season). They have quality role players such as Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik among others.

But how does all of that fit together?

Last season the Rockets played at the fastest pace in the NBA and everyone bought into the system, now they bring in Howard who pushed back against a similar fast pace and heavy pick-and-roll system in Los Angeles. Can Howard and Asik play together and how does that fit with an up-tempo system? Can this team defend? There are a lot of questions.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle he wants to play the same system, but admitted there is going to be some experimentation while they piece the puzzle together.

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, 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.

Can Asik and Howard play together?

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.

Asik could certainly end up getting traded during the season as other quality teams lose big men to injury (or just realize they need more help inside) and make a good offer to Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

Morey said he thinks there are a few teams in the league better than the Rockets right now, and he’s correct. The Rockets are on the cusp of contention now, but they need to see how the pieces fit, see how this team can grow together,and see if McHale can get them to that next level. My guess on their trajectory is they learn a lot of lessons this season and are more dangerous (likely after a few roster tweaks) next season. It’s a process.

Watching McHale and Morey try to fit the puzzle pieces together is going to be one of the more interesting storylines of this season.

  1. imakcds - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    let’s see…
    he made Van Gundy look stupid for not being able to win it all, and threw him under the bus….
    he is a big part of the reason Mike Brown got fired…
    and he wouldn’t run the pick n roll for a coach who guided his pg to 2 MVP’s and a place in the HOF.
    Experiment, McHale?
    With what? A new Resume??

    • ddarqwon - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:47 AM

      Howard had nothing to do with Brown being fired. That was the foolishly impatient Lakers management.
      But hey, don’t let that little bit of truth stop you.

  2. imakcds - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    If Houston demi god Hakeem Olajuwon had to back track on his honest assessment of the new kid on the block, you think McHale won’t be eating sheet, too??

  3. timb12 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I really like McHale as the coach. He seems to adapt to the talent he has around him. I hope the rest of the Rockets fan base realizes it’s a process and that in two or 3 years we can start calling for heads to roll, but right now the roster and season are something to be excited about.

    • skids003 - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      I like McHale too. His biggest job will be getting Dwight Howard to check his sensitivity and ego and produce. Good luck with that, he’s the biggest diva in the league.

    • kb2408 - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      What has McHale done as a coach? Mike D’Antoni is a more accomplished coach.

      • timb12 - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        I didn’t say count the rings, but what he has done with the Rockets roster these past two years really gives me hope as a fan.

  4. cbking05 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Lower Dwight’s expectations so he doesn’t feel any pressure … the making of a true champion

  5. losanginsight - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Kevin’s plan sounds a bit delusional. I’m not sure he accepts the fact that Omer and She12 can’t hit a free throws. Houston he’s will be 3 qtrs long and no lead is safe if those 2 are on the court. Look at what happens last year in the playoffs when it was only Omer. Have fun Houston!!

    • ddarqwon - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:53 AM

      What exactly do you think happened last year in the playoffs with Omer?
      Ask OKC what happened.

      I’m guessing you’re just another silly Lakers fan talking out of his rear end.
      It’s gonna be a long season for you guys.

  6. sw69ca - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Its weird to see Kevin McHale work in Texas coming from Boston,
    civilization to cowboy country lol

    • jimeejohnson - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      Houston is a world class metropolis. Local seafood is easily some of the best in the world. Texas could be its own country, mmkay? I heard in a baseball blog about Roger Clemens that it’s a Texas Liberal conspiracy to make Clemens look bad! Still, Houston’s got everything except mountains, just like Florida, and Florida is pretty awesome, especially in the dead of winter.

    • ddarqwon - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:55 AM

      @ sw69ca: You obviously know nothing about Houston…and apparently Boston either.

  7. scottheis82 - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again this is Phil Jackson’s team this time next year.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. E. Bledsoe (3027)
  2. R. Rondo (2897)
  3. K. Bryant (2348)
  4. L. James (2305)
  5. R. Allen (2117)
  1. N. Young (1886)
  2. D. Rose (1820)
  3. R. Rubio (1745)
  4. J. Hickson (1709)
  5. B. Jennings (1656)