Houston Rockets: Phil Jackson Hearts the Rockets
By Phillip Pyle
Mandatory Credit: Jim O
Sam Amick of USA Today sat down with Phil Jackson this weekend and he had some interesting things to say about the Houston Rockets, Omer Asik, and Dwight Howard.
Here is the excerpt when Jackson begins to talk about the Rockets:
Q: So at the risk of connecting dots that may not exist, I noticed that (Houston Rockets general manager) Daryl Morey was the first guy to greet you after your panel yesterday, and it made me wonder if that situation might not intrigue you. You wanted to coach Dwight in LA, and it made me wonder if you might not be involved in that situation at some point. What’s your outlook on Houston?
A: They’re playing well. They’re starting to play really well together, and it’s a chemistry thing that’s starting to connect with them. Dwight was able to do things to people he could manhandle in the post early on, and he’d have good games or so-so games. But now the coordination between he and (Rockets small forward Chandler) Parsons — those guys are starting to get it and to know how to use him and to know how to play in what they’re trying to do now, passing well out of it and getting three points shots. You know, a lot of people say they don’t see them in the Finals in the West but I think they have a chance to be in the Finals in the West.
You know, they may have a young guy at (power forward), but with (backup center Omer) Asik back they might be able to start putting a lot of things together where there will be both Asik and Howard on the floor. And in the NBA playoffs, after the first game or so everything becomes halfcourt. And then it’s (about) who can grind it out and defend. And when you’ve got big defenders, this may be an opportunity for them to really step through that to another level. They had a good run last year against Oklahoma — didn’t win, but they pressed them. And now with Dwight there, they’re looking for things to go forward a little bit. I think we’ve all wanted to see Dwight develop a really good post-up game, and I just saw his left hand come back, he started shooting again where it looked like his left hand was back. That’s been one of his strengths, where he’s been able to hold off with his right and shoot with his left — that’s been one of the things he’s doing well now again. So I like to see that. And I think it takes a long time to get over the type of back injury he had, and I think the Lakers weren’t patient. I don’t think our fans understood. I had spinal fusion, a back operation, and I know that I spent one year playing a backup role and it was difficult for me. And then after that one year of kind of getting back and getting my legs underneath me and getting a comfort zone and mobility back again, I had better years. The next three years were much better for me in my career. And I think that’s going to happen to Dwight. So I encouraged Daryl.
Q: He has been playing out of his mind. The last month, it looks like the Orlando Dwight.
A: Exactly. Yeah.
Q: So considering the narrative on (Rockets coach) Kevin McHale has been that people wonder how long he wants to coach, do you have intrigue with that situation? I have to admit wondering that maybe you look at that like a do-over from what didn’t happen in LA with Dwight.
A: (Laughs). No, I. I’m sorry. I mean. Um, no. I don’t (pauses). I like that. That’s funny. I’ve got a (phone) call at 10 (a.m.) — how am I doing at time?
Amick: You’re running late. Thanks for the time, Phil.