Rockets Notes: Howard, Smith, Hornacek

Almost everyone in the NBA expects Dwight Howard to opt out of his Rockets contract, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, but the Perry Rogers client wouldn’t confirm that he’ll do so when he spoke Tuesday on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” insisting that he hasn’t made a decision and that he hasn’t thought about which team he’ll play for next season, Robbins notes. That’s in spite of an April report that identified four front-runners to sign Howard this summer. See more on Howard amid the latest on the Rockets.

  • The big man remains confident in the viability of his pairing with James Harden, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “I think we can [succeed together],” Howard said. “I believe we can. Both of us have to put our egos and our pride to the side and say, ‘Hey, we need each other to win.’ That’s the only way we’re going to win.”
  • Howard’s reputation hasn’t been the same since his messy split with the Magic four years ago, but he took strides toward repairing it with his charm and deft handling of the questions from the TNT panel Tuesday, Robbins believes. “I want to win,” Howard said. “That’s why I play this game, and I don’t want to finish my career and not be up on that podium.”
  • Still, no Rockets teammate was asking at season’s end for Howard to return, Watkins tweets, suggesting that it seems as though everyone assumes he’s leaving.
  • The Rockets completed scheduled interviews Tuesday with Kenny Smith and Jeff Hornacek and plan more interviews to come, a source told Calvin Watkins of (ESPN Now link). Houston reportedly interviewed David Blatt on Monday and previously did so with Mike D’Antoni, Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch. Former interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff interviewed but took himself out of the running. A talk with Hornets assistant Stephen Silas is apparently on the docket and the team would reportedly like to interview Frank Vogel. The Rockets expressed interest in Lionel Hollins, Feigen reported, and college coaches Bill Self and Shaka Smart are said to intrigue the team. Still, Jeff Van Gundy seemingly remains the favorite.
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