Houston Rockets Daily Rocket Science: D’Antoni in, Dwight out?

Jan 14, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) reacts during the fourth quarter at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Houston Rockets 120-113. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) reacts during the fourth quarter at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Houston Rockets 120-113. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

In a matter of hours, news broke that (a) Dwight and D’Antoni don’t get along and that (b) the Houston Rockets are looking to hire D’Antoni. Coincidence?

Jeff Van Gundy moved very swiftly from being the favorite to be hired for the head coach of the Houston Rockets to out of the running altogether. Similarly, Mike D’Antoni went from being just one of the many names that had been thrown into the hat to the supposed frontrunner.

Notably, news broke today that Dwight Howard did not want D’Antoni to be hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers when he was part of the team in 2012. With all the rumors going around, it’s hard not to believe that there might be a statement being made by the Rockets’ front office about Dwight’s future in Houston by favoring D’Antoni in the coaching search.

If Houston and D'Antoni reach a deal, assumption in league circles is Dwight Howard's days in Houston are over. Did not get along in LA.

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) May 19, 2016

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Over the course of his entire career, Dwight Howard has opened up to the media about how he feels maybe three or four times. Two of those instances have been in the last week. After his impromptu counseling session on TNT with Charles Barkley, D12 sat down with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, openly discussing everything from his relationship with James Harden to his potentially short future with the Rockets.

Howard: “I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, ‘I want to be more involved.’ Daryl said, ‘No, we don’t want you to be.’ My response was, ‘Why not? Why am I here?’ It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, ‘No disrespect to what you do, but you’ve never played the game. I’ve been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.”’

Morey declined comment.

Aside from my tendency to support Howard staying with the Rockets, I don’t think D’Antoni would be a good fit in Houston. His offenses have been great in the past, but his lack of defensive emphasis has been detrimental to his effectiveness as a coach in years past. In addition to his ineptitude on the defensive end, Kelly Scaletta of Today’s Fastbreak wonders if he can truly cooperate with James Harden, citing D’Antoni’s issues with Carmelo Anthony.

All this is relevant because James Harden is the player on the court who the Rockets rely on the most, so the question becomes: Is Harden more Nash or Anthony?

Harden ran 566 isolation plays last year. That’s more than nine teams and only seven fewer than the Golden State Warriors. That’s a lot of iso and the polar opposite of D’Antoni.

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Not that the future in Houston is necessarily all bleak, but I’d be much more comfortable with things if it weren’t a strong possibility that the Rockets go into next season with no All-Star centers (if Dwight leaves), an unproven head coach (if D’Antoni is hired), and no first round draftees (thanks for nothing, Ty Lawson). Space City Scoop Editor Tamberlyn Richardson provides an update of every team’s draft picks and discusses the idea of trading up in the draft and trying to add some fresh talent.

"It’s an all too familiar refrain in Houston that the move to bring the Nuggets point guard to Houston last summer was a total failure. Not only did the diminutive Lawson fail to upgrade the starting core, but his regression was shocking. Worst, the trade that brought him from Denver to Houston ended up being far more costly, especially when the Rockets made the playoffs."

If it’s true that bringing in D’Antoni would all but force Dwight Howard out of Houston, then I’d argue that there would be no real value in pulling that trigger. Dwight may not be the player he used to be, but it would be foolish to burn a bridge that hasn’t even been crossed yet.

Send our Editor any Rockets-related article/video/tweet/gram/vine that we may have missed via Twitter direct message to @TTOTambz.

Next: Rockets Draft Prospect Series: Brandon Ingram

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