It’s no surprise he clashed with Bryant, whose persona is famously confrontational, but in Houston he also engaged in a cold war with the mild-mannered James Harden. “James is not the kind of guy who is going to say, ‘Yo, man, you got a problem?’ and I’m not either,” Howard says. “When I don’t like what’s going on, I tend to shut down, put my headphones on and ignore everything. I don’t talk about things. That happened to me in L.A. It happened to me again in Houston. I should have communicated better.” One Rockets official called a meeting with Howard and Harden that felt more like an intervention. Harden voiced what he wanted from Howard, namely stronger screens and tougher rim protection, but Howard didn’t express much in response. The freeze deepened.
Storyline: Howard-Harden Dynamic
This summer Howard bought a 700-acre farm in north Georgia where he relaxes with the cows, hogs, turkeys and deer. He is particularly fond of the donkeys, which keep the coyotes away. To prepare for retirement, Howard has written what he calls his “99-year plan,” in which he hopes to become Farmer Dwight. “My dad grew up in the country, and whenever we drove to my grandma’s house, I was always fascinated by the farms we passed, how neat everything was,” Howard recalls. “I want to go out there, milk the cows, work the field. I’ll be able to tell you what watermelon came from what row.”
Howard is considering suing some of his former associates, but he is not ready to divulge names or make public allegations. He is rehiring Aaron Goodwin, his original agent, because he appreciates Goodwin’s blunt honesty in addition to his deft marketing. Goodwin agreed to return after Deebo downsized his unwieldy circle. The revamped crew includes Justin Zormelo, skills coach to John Wall, and Ed Downs, personal trainer for Chris Bosh.
Storyline: Agent Changes
Hornets coach Steve Clifford wanted to experiment some with Monk playing the point at Orlando Summer League. Monk’s ankle sprain delayed that experiment, but the Hornets figure to explore that option in the preseason. As to Monk’s playmaking ability, he’s already made an impression on a veteran teammate in a handful of pre-camp workouts. “I didn’t know (his game) a whole lot when we drafted him, just highlights,” said Hornets center Cody Zeller. “These past few weeks have been really good (in demonstrating) his knack for the game, particularly offensively.”