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NBA PM: Young Rockets Talk Dwight Howard
Posted By Alex Kennedy On July 10, 2013 @ 5:06 pm In NBA | No Comments
HOOPSWORLD chats with Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones at the Orlando Summer League.Watch More Video Here
Rockets Discuss Dwight Howard Acquisition
The Houston Rockets pulled off the biggest move of the 2013 NBA offseason by agreeing to terms with superstar center Dwight Howard last week.
One year ago, Houston was lottery fodder and Kevin Martin was the team’s best player. Now, they have one of the best tandems in the league with James Harden and Howard, and if all goes as planned this team will become a perennial contender.
The Rockets are understandably ecstatic about the acquisition. At the 2013 Orlando Summer League, young players like Patrick Beverley, Greg Smith and Terrence Jones didn’t hide their excitement.
“I’m definitely happy that he’s here,” Beverley said. “I’m glad that it wasn’t prolonged. I think our whole organization -coaching staff, players, summer league players – even my family and friends are happy. I know the fans in Houston are ecstatic right now. … His defensive rim protection is a big piece of the puzzle. We need it. Adding him to our team, as you guys know, is a huge boost. At the end of the day, we still have to come in and prepare like any other good team to get ready for the upcoming season.
“It’s going to be great, especially because Dwight gets so much attention from defenders. And I mean, the inside-out with him and James is going to be perfect. It’s up to me, [Francisco] Garcia and Chandler [Parsons] to continue making plays, be aggressive and hit open shots. … It’s going to be fun. I know basketball. Dwight is going to be a big boost. No one has a crystal ball though. Everything takes hard work and preparation and that’s what we have to do.”
Smith and Howard faced off several times last year, and the second match-up on December 4 was basically Smith’s coming out party. He had 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes, which earned him more playing time in Houston’s rotation. However, even though he had that big game against Howard, he’s thrilled that he no longer has to play against him.
“I can’t wait,” Smith said. “After playing against that guy, I’m glad he’s my teammate. Last year, playing against him three times was tough. He’s one of the best bigs in the league – hands down. He’s strong, physical, runs like a gazelle, jumps and scores. It’s going to be great to have him on our team. I know a lot of teams are going to be preparing for him, so I know I’ll be getting my dunks. If he shoots and misses it, I got that tip dunk because they’ll be watching him a lot. It’s really going to free me up a lot. And I can learn so much from him. He’s been in the league for nine years. He has so much experience and he’s been to the Finals. I just want to soak it all in.”
“It just feels good,” Jones added. “I’m just trying to put in work to be ready for the next season. Just to learn from him and be able to play off of him, it’ll help me get better. There’s a lot of things I can learn from him.”
Houston is celebrating now, but the entire organization understands that more work needs to be done if they want to be celebrating in June as well. Howard knows more than anyone that being talented on paper doesn’t win a team anything after his experience with the Los Angeles Lakers. Houston’s front office is still working on building the roster, the coaches are working to improve their system and the players are doing everything they can to prepare for what should be an outstanding season.
“I think guys are ready,” Jones said. “We really went after it in the playoffs and it was exciting. We’re just ready to get better and make another step.”
“We have to fight,” Smith said. “Just because we got him doesn’t mean we get to sit back, lay low and say we’re going to win the championship. From now on, we have to put in extra work. Everyone is saying that we’re going to be title contenders so we have to work. Me, Patrick, Terrence and all of the young guys need to better ourselves and mature so that we can be ready for the season. We’ll have a target, teams will want to beat us so we need to be ready.”
Redick Excited to Land With Clippers
At last season’s trade deadline, J.J. Redick was one of the most coveted players in the league. Team after team contacted the Orlando Magic and tried to acquire the veteran shooting guard. Redick ultimately ended up with the Milwaukee Bucks, but it soon became apparent that his stint there would be a short one. So when free agency started last Monday, Redick was once again in demand.
A number of teams called Redick and his camp, attempting to sign the 29-year-old to a long-term deal. He landed with the Los Angeles Clippers on a four-year contract thanks to a sign-and-trade facilitated by the Bucks and Phoenix Suns.
“I’m very excited,” Redick said on The David Baumann Show on Sports Talk Florida. “Going into free agency, I didn’t really know what to expect. The Clippers thing really matriculated over the course of 24 to 48 hours. Going into free agency, two weeks prior, the Clippers thing wasn’t really on my radar. But I think my prior relationship with Doc kind of helped and I was a guy he targeted because he wanted me on his team. We had to jump through some hoops on both sides, but we were able to get the deal done.
“There’s been a mutual level of respect from Doc and I going back a number of years, probably going back to those 2008, 2009 teams that used to battle with the Celtics. He’s a guy that if you named five coaches in the NBA, he’d be in that five of guys that I’d want to play for so I’m very excited. We had dinner on Monday night, the day free agency started, and hit it off. I went into Tuesday morning not knowing if the Clippers wanted to go through with this, but I was crossing my fingers and hoping that this is where I ended up.”
Redick almost signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves since they were offering good money and the opportunity to be a starter alongside stars Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.
“One of the teams that targeted me in free agency was Minnesota and I nearly went there,” Redick admitted. “One of the things that was attractive was the opportunity to start there and play with those guys like [Ricky] Rubio and Kevin Love. It’s certainly an attractive thing. I think everybody would like that role [as a starter], but my whole thing the last four or five years has been getting playing time and finishing games, and I’ve been fortunate to be on teams where I finish games.”
Even though Redick and Rivers have talked and had dinner, he hasn’t discussed whether he’ll start.
“That conversation hasn’t taken place,” Redick said of his role. “I don’t know what to expect in terms of that. Jamal Crawford is kind of already there coming off of the bench so my expectation would be that I’ll have an opportunity to earn a starting spot. But nothing is given in this league and I’m open to anything. I’m excited to have the opportunity to play for a team that has a chance to win and win big.”
Redick’s contract was reported to be worth $27 million over four years, but he disputed those numbers and joked that nearly every non-max player has had an inaccurate contract figure reported. He said that it’s “safe to say I’ll be making more than that” with the Clippers. Redick said his last contract, a three-year deal reportedly worth $19 million, was wrong as well (“There wasn’t a one or a nine in there”).
Now that his free agency experience is over and his long-term contract is signed, Redick is just happy that he has landed in a great situation with the opportunity to contend for a championship.
“There were other offers, but their offer was right in the range of the other offers I was getting,” Redick said. “The idea of being on a winning team and playing for Doc is what sold me. And the L.A. weather. I mean, let’s be honest, the L.A. weather is awesome.”
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