Does Mike D’Antoni Help Or Hurt The Lakers’ Cause With Dwight Howard?



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Houston’s Kevin McHale got the first crack at making a lasting impression on Dwight Howard, and from all indications did exactly that. Golden State’s Mark Jackson and Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer acquitted themselves quite well, too, in their face-to-face meetings with Howard.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, easily one of the league’s top coaches and one of the smartest and most accomplished basketball minds around, is up next when the Mavericks’ contingent makes its sales pitch to Howard this afternoon. Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has some ridiculously tough acts to follow. The fact that he’s one of the only coaches on Howard’s list of contenders who has actually worked with the prized free agent big man should be to his (and the Lakers’) benefit.

But if the rumblings about Howard and D’Antoni struggling to find common ground during their lone season together are true, D’Antoni’s seat alongside Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and others at Howard’s final recruiting session this evening in Los Angeles might not be the trump card it should be.

In fact, it’s not unreasonable to wonder: is D’Antoni helping or hurting the Lakers’ cause here? For all of the stars who have lined up to woo Howard, all of the owners, living legends, titans of industry and what have you, no one is more important than these respective coaches.

They have to be front and center during this process with a clear-cut plan that details exactly how they will take advantage of Howard’s skills and what they’ll do to exploit them in a way that leads to championships.

Given Howard’s recent past with coaches (see Stan Van Gundy, Orlando), it’s not hard to overstate the importance of the coach-player dynamic in whatever becomes his final choice.

The Los Angeles Clippers took care of that extremely important piece of business with their own free-agent star, Chris Paul, by dumping Vinny Del Negro after the best season in franchise history and pursuing and landing Doc Rivers to replace him and take over the role as the Clippers’ senior vice president of basketball operations. Via Twitter, Paul committed to the Clippers Monday morning and will sign a five-year, $107 million deal come July 10.

Howard is extremely sensitive about the sentiment that he’s some sort of “coach killer,” as he should be, because there are few tags more damaging to a superstar’s profile.

“That’s a tough thing to live down once you get it,” said one Western Conference executive. “That’s the knock on Dwight right now, whether he likes it or not. Everyone knows he’d had issues with his last two coaches and that’s why you know whatever is there with D’Antoni would have to be fixed before he could honestly think about staying with the Lakers. There’s no way around it.”

If Howard decides he’d rather play elsewhere, D’Antoni will get plenty of blame — deserved or not. And that’s what makes his role today so crucial. With Bryant and Nash (two of D’Antoni’s greatest allies) flanking him, he has a chance to clean up whatever mess is there and do his best to talk Howard back into the fold.

We might never get any real answers anyway. Howard has never come clean on what went down with Van Gundy, even though their disconnect led to the dissolution of a championship-caliber team in Orlando. He will have a chance to walk away from the Lakers this time without having to publicly address the D’Antoni situation. But that won’t stop any of us from speculating.

And it certainly won’t silence the Lakers fans who are already convinced that D’Antoni ruined any chance of Howard sticking around, even with the $30 million and extra contract year the Lakers can offer that no one else can.

One of D’Antoni’s colleagues came to his defense, insisting that if Howard chooses one of his other options, it won’t be because of any rift — real or perceived — between Howard and D’Antoni.

“Don’t make this about Mike, that’s not fair to him,” said an Eastern Conference coach who knows D’Antoni well and has coached against Howard for years. “This is [Dwight's] thing. He has to own it and make it right. Blaming Mike for anything that hasn’t gone his way the last couple of years is just wrong. This is Dwight’s choice, he has to make it, own it and get back on the floor and do what he does. And I know people are convinced that he’s already gone, but I’m not in that crowd. I think he’s going to stay in L.A.”

57 Comments

  1. rabags says:

    D12 should stay in L.A. He loves the spotlight,drama & all, he couldn’t find these things elsewhere. L.A. can offer him more money than any other team. He will understand that Kobe is retiring soon & he will be the main man when that time comes. And if he really wants to win a championship ASAP, L.A. is the team capable of doing it, especially with Kobe (has the heart of a champion), still around. Needs a few tweaks though by signing young legs & getting rid of the other older ones. They have done it before, they can do that again.

  2. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Does Chris Paul really have to wait till July 10th to re-sign???

    David West re-signed with the Pacers; he didn’t wait till July 10th.

    If Chris Paul did tweet that he will stay a Clipper, he may want to rethink that very seriously. He may want to change his mind. If he wants Championships, LA is not the place to be. He has to join an elite team like the Thunder. Otherwise, no Championships. Just lots of money and an overrated Doc Rivers — a coach that got ousted in the first round.

  3. Platospicks says:

    Dantoni is one of the biggest frauds in NBA history. Anyone read Brian Shaw’s comments on being hired by Nuggets? HE will adapt to players and NOT force the triangle system to the roster. This is what REAL coaches do, the perfect example of basketball genius is Pat Riley, Lakers with show time, then with Knicks slow down Defensive bruising system, then with heat he has re-invented roster 3 times successfully while danFony has shown he will never be the reason a team is better because he is incapable of motivating his players And out coaching the opposing coach, and these are verified facts of last 5 years…

  4. POP says:

    Dwight is gone. call the team .THE LOS ANGLES BRYANT,S

  5. G-man says:

    The lakers need much more than an overrated Dwight Howard and they need to get rid of the coach

  6. elroger says:

    Dwight is just trying to gain attention to his circus act since his game hasn’t been a real act this season, weather it is the coach or Kobe’s making sure everyone knows who is in charge of the lakers I think it is better for both of them to leave howard to another team.

    Kobe above all is a great competitor and a player that won’t give up he has proven this every time playing injured without any drama about it, on the other hand howard has made such a display on his shoulder injury, maybe because he felt that way he could be forgiven for not stteping up to the role the lakers wanted for him.

    It is really simple howard must go and the lakers need to rethink their game,maybe what they need is to change coach.

  7. natan says:

    he won’t sign with dallas he’s gonna sign with rockets

  8. Alekos says:

    It is true that Lakers have more great players than Rockets… But most of them do not like Dwight.. Especially Shaq makes fun of him and call him stuperman… Maybe he is jealous.. In the other hand Hakeem Olajuwon can help Howard very much…

  9. ??? says:

    how come no ones brought up d12 signing with dallas????

  10. natan says:

    dwight should stay

  11. J says:

    hurt
    Houston or gs

  12. Nando says:

    I hope the Lakers pick up a decent point guard, bench Nash.. Get atleast another decent player, let go Meta, Blake,Jaminson and try to get a decent trade for Gasol (If they dont keep him). Only then I think D12 will stay.. As a bonus fire Dantoni…..

  13. BBall says:

    I agree with most of these comments. I like the insight I see on here. I’ll add that I think Dwight needs to work on his offensive game. He needs to get post up moves, short range jump shots, hook shots, and FREE THROWS!! All those misses, especially when they “Hack a Howard” really add up, even though he downplays their significance.

    I also think he needs to get more driven and serious about his game. If he just wants to go out there and joke around, he shouldnt have joined the NBA. He needs a hearty dose of Kobe’s drive and grit if he wants a championship under his belt.

  14. I Like NBA says:

    Kobe, Dwight, Gasol, Nash were put together so LA could quickly win one more trophy with Kobe. You have to agree Kobe is getting quite old. and with all the effort he puts on the floor, you never really know when his body breaks down completely. Yes he says Now that he feels for another 2-3 years. However i’m sure he didnt think he would be out at the end of the season cuz of his injury, and that is what makes sports unpredictable. no matter how tough, how good you are, there is always a chance that you can be done for in a blink of an eye.
    Wade is younger than kobe, but all the injuries he plays as if he was couple years older than him,
    or take Tracy, he def was considered to be a HoF some day, and win one or two rings but injury and he’s done for.

    The point i am trying to make is that LA wanted to win won more with kobe while he’s still can play like crazy even at his age. but it didnt work out, Now it is clear that these guys given a chance might do it in two years. one more year to figure out how to play together, and another to make another championship run.

    for the reasons above i’d say D12 should stay in LA, the franchise that can really help him grow. plus the money is great. right now he’ll be on the spotlight and have all the pressure, and if he cant handle the pressure then he’s not worth the talk that surrounds him now. However if he overcomes his crybaby mentality and instead deal with all the difficulties, he will win at least one trophy this team…

    Take the LA offer, take the money, grow a better player and have faith in th franchise, cuz they will build around howard. and 5 years in enough time for all that.

    p.s. i am a heat fan

  15. damien says:

    Stop comparing dwight with asik people… its plain and simple why teams are going gung ho about dwight and not asik… plain and simple ask all the starting centers in the NBA who would they like to guard or guarding them??? howard or asik??? bet ya they say ASIK… its not just stats to compare them its about the physical dominance and mental effect dwight brings in the court…

    • damien says:

      and lakers should be preparing for the worse case scenario.. and honestly its not that bad… if they dont get d12 , they can trade gasol for lamarcus aldridge with a couple of first round picks, amnesty MWP contract and pick up andrea iggy, trade nash and jamison for rajon rondo and some more firs round picks, and pick up damarcus cousin for a solid center.. if you cant get rondo pick up jeff teague his a decent pg… rondo/teague, bryant, andrea iggy, L. aldridge, D. Cousin.. pretty solid and young players…

  16. EMjay says:

    I don’t know why the Lakers kept on pursuing howard where as, there’s lots of available big man right now on the trading block! like what chuck said before on TNT, Dwight don’t know how to post up! & like what Shaq said, for a big man like him,he needs to have a go to move. Certainly, Lakers needs a revamp on all aspects if they want to keep up with the other teams in the West.

  17. Big Kev says:

    Dwight Howard is a professional basketball player.

    The pinnacle for any player or coach is to win a championship. How can you say he doesn’t want a ring? He’ll get paid wherever he ends up. The difference is that ring.

    The decision is simple. Go to the team that feels like the best overall fit for a run at a title. Doesn’t have to be in the next year but in the coming years.

    I’m a fan of the game of basketball and don’t care where he ends up but it’d be good for the game if he went somewhere he could contribute and help a team outside of Miami win a championship and make for another great finals in the seasons to come.

    • Shian500 says:

      Please let Howard go, go after Jefferson who can play defense and SCORE, something Howard can’t do but dunk, and please go after a young point guard.

  18. Tony says:

    Dwight Howard does not want to play for the Lakers as long as Kobe is on the team I don’t know why he’s not man enough to just say it. Andrew Bynum put it best, Kobe is a great player but playing with Kobe will stunt your basketball growth. Not taking anything from Kobe’s game but he is too ball dominant for any other player on the team to show how good they really are.

  19. shanecp says:

    Mike D’Antoni is the biggest problem here, re-sign Dwight, and get Phil Jackson in the picture somehow. Get him to direct, advise and coordinate the players. Set up back the triangle offense, it is what won them 5 championship in 1 decade and it would have been more if Kobe had better players surrounding him from 2004 to 2007.

  20. jnco10999 says:

    I never liked Mike D’Antoni. He seems like an incredibly stubborn coach hell bent on forcing his players to adapt to his system instead of having him adapt to theirs. The Lakers made a stupid decision to bring him aboard. Not that he’s the only problem, Dwight needs to grow up too.

  21. Sean says:

    Honestly, I don’t see why L.A. can’t just strap it down and re-build.
    From what we’ve seen last year, several things are clear enough.

    A) The current roster, even when everyone is healthy, is not championship calibre.
    B) If Howard leaves, they are stuck with a core all above 30 and going to 35.
    C) Whether it’s a win or a bust, they should be playing for Summer of 2014, not next season. In 2014, several major salaries come off the books including everyone in their core but Nash. Kobe, if he wants back, will have to take a paycut. And whether at that point they have Gasol or Howard manning the middle they shouldn’t have to commit extra cash. They are in a great position to make another big spash.

  22. sid says:

    Oh man,

    I would be delighted if D12 leaves LA, but Houston? It’s funny how much this team incl. D12 would reminding me the days back at a promising ýoung Orlando team incl. also a dominant Coach and a lot of key and role players. Though they never won a ring!

    • Chris says:

      I recall they were doing pretty well vs the Lakers in the 2009 finals until they put Jameer back in. Why they tore that team up the next year is beyond me. It was all down hill from there.

      • p00kienrayray says:

        I dont quite understand your comment. Jameer Nelson played since game 1 of the finals. Lakers won 4-1. How is that doing well? Do you mean they were doing well in the playoffs until Nelson returned in the Finals?

  23. kobe4TW says:

    Lebron will go to the LAkers this season and will win 4 championships with the new big three: Kobe, LEbron Dwight

    • sid says:

      Hell on earth? Never – cause it would be the day I lay down my 25 years Lakers fanship forever!

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      why do you waste your time writing comments that make absolutely no sense..

  24. Howard says:

    “It takes more than just talent to win NBA chapionship. With all the talents in Houston, chapionship is still not a guaranttee. Even with Labron, Wade and Bosh on the same team, they did not get the job done in their first year.”

    Doesn’t mean it can’t be done Pierce, KG, and Allen did it the first year together.

  25. Shawn K says:

    I think Dwight will leave L.A. While he does want BIG money, he also wants championships. He also doesn’t fit into the system in L.A that D’Antoni is running. Howard has gone on record and said he doesn’t like the system and that he doesn’t fit with it. So I think D’Antoni is a major reason why Dwight will probably leave. Also, Dwight wants to be the “main guy” of a team, the “alpha dog” if you will. And everyone knows as long as Kobe plays basketball, he is going to be the alpha dog whether you like it or not. And the Lakers have an aging(already old) and broken and injured roster and Dwight doesn’t really fit with them. Dwight needs a young, athletics, exciting, healthy team that will help him flourish. For those reasons, I believe Howard will sign with either the Houston Rockets, or the Cleveland Cavaliers(if they make him a good offer). Houston has Harden, Parsons (and while they’re probably going to trade him) Robinson. This is a young team that is hungry for a championship. Also the Cavaliers have their star PG in Kyrie Irving, they have a solid 2 guard in Waiters and they can decide who to play at the PF between Bennett and Thompson (I think the will choose Bennett and trade Thompson) and putting Howard along side those guys would be golden!! So I think Dwight will leave L.A, but that’s just my opinion.

  26. dirkovan says:

    Dwight is not a slight upgrade vs Asik, but not a remarkable one either. Defensively Asik is coming, already one of the best rebounders in the game and this year he had a better inside defensive presence than howard. Thats a fact. Offensively both of them struggled during the season, though D12 has more potential to improve, I can agree with that. But that potential needs to be exploited, and that potential currently shows a 50% FT shooter with no consistent low post game and with no go-to move. Houston was stupid to offer Lin and Asik those big contracts, now they have Harden on max deal and they want to bring over Howard? They will have a brooklyn type budget with good starting line up but no bench thus no ring.

    If Howard has carbon lime in his backbone he stays in LA regardless of Kobe and tries to prove that he can be one of the most dominant big men all time. Still a way to go !!!

  27. J-Short37 says:

    I think as with all of the others teams it is right for DAntoni to be present during the meetings so they can iron out face to face any philosophy of team play issues. And if DAntoni does not show it would look as if there is some type of beef with Howard and Antoni. With that being said Howard should go to Houston and allow him and the Lakers move on.

  28. Ben says:

    There is only one bargaining chip for the Lakers to re-sing Howard. Tell Howard that if he signs with the lakers, they will fire D’Antoni and hire Phil Jackson. We all know that Howard is a disresprectul person. He never respected Van Gundy and will not repect D’Antoni. The only person he will respect is Jackson because Phil has the hardware. He’s got 10 rings to show for it. Plus the demeanor of Jackson commands respect from players. Eaham say that the players are to be blamed for not buying into D’Antoni’s system. I do not agree with that. Coaches should know their personnel. You know that big men are always slsow. Why do we say that the most ideal match up for a point guard is when the center switches on him? Point guards will always outrun the center. that’s a fact of life. D’Antoni should revise his sytem to adapt to his players. When you have older players, you should develop a system that is the best for your players. Even Kobe is admitting that he is old already and cannot run with the young kid of Golden State. Great coaches adjust to their players capabilities not the other way around.

  29. Vlad says:

    He definitely hurt the Lakers, if the Lakers hired Phil Jackson again, they would be way better!!

  30. samgold35 says:

    Both Nash & D’Antoni hurt the Laker’s cause. Nash too old to keep even average PG’s in front of him, which puts tremendous pressure on the D. Or it puts pressure on Kobe to guard the PGs which he shouldnt be doing at his age. D’Antoni system obviously is not a good fit for Howard. And playing with Kobe comes with its own challenges. Only reason Howard would stay with the Lakers, would be for the money. 30 mil is a lot to leave on the table.

  31. billy says:

    HE HAS TO GO TO SAN ANTONIO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Eaham says:

    When will everyone stop blaming the coaches ? Cry me a river cause you cant run up and down a court. Coach wants you to run, well if you cant run atleast out it some hustle. Ive seen dwight and pau, these guys dont hustle anymore and they blame d/antoni for the system. How can you blame him if youre not even usng his system. Howard i expected it but gasol should really chill. Kobe hasnt complained about the system, he stays positive.

    • chalice says:

      I think you can blame coaches for a lot (minus missing point blank and open shots). That being said the players have more to do with it than the coaches. The reason I say this is that George Karl, Pop, and Jerry Sloan all had good to great teams every year. You can say they all had great players but Utah after Malone/Stockton was still good (Derron Williams don’t deserve that much credit), Spurs are always a threat (leonard’s development) and Karl had little after the Carmelo trade and still got his team to the playoffs. These coaches really did make their teams significantly better so I think you can blame D’antoni even though the Lakers made the playoffs. Lakers are in a badddd situation and it’ll take around 2-3 years to get better. If Dwight is serious about winning, it’s time to go.

  33. Brain32 says:

    D’Antoni is not a coach for LA Lakers, period.
    I’m not saying he is a bad coach but he needs to find a team that suits his style and philosophy, Lakers are not that team…

  34. Alex says:

    You have the kobe thing all wrong i agree with all of yor other comments though..
    Kobe openly said he’ll talk to him but hes not gonna force anything.
    that you he has to want to be there.
    Not just someone sold him in on it.
    Next kobe is not on his way out.. hes working back on the court already..
    He said and i quote. “I feel i could play at the high school level for another to two three years,”

  35. Patty says:

    Sekou Smith, Mike D’Antoni should have never been hired.

    The Lakers organization would rather keep D’ Antoni then have a great player in Diwight Howard.

    Mike D’Antoni will be fired before the season ends.

  36. Demba go 2 guy says:

    i think the lakers should fire D’Antoni.He’s not a coach at all and it’s actually KOBE coaching.This LA lakers i’m seing is totally different from Phil Jackson’s.that’s the major concern of this franchise right now and not Dwight.

  37. Dan says:

    Not sure what Dwight should. Houston really looks like a good..BETTER option it seems.
    -Less pressure
    -He’ll be the main guy
    -Great coach that knows how to play big men
    -Harden, Jeremy Lin, and other great shooters

    LA is pretty much going to be starting over soon..they players are old. I like LA, Dantonie is not the best coach for Dwight..or Gasul for that matter.

    If you want to win Right Now…Houston. If you want great Historic, and Popular Organization LA. Its a Win Win either way

    • Thommy says:

      It takes more than just talent to win NBA chapionship. With all the talents in Houston, chapionship is still not a guaranttee. Even with Labron, Wade and Bosh on the same team, they did not get the job done in their first year.

  38. Jimmy Buckets says:

    I think he will stay in la:
    1. Houston has Asik at center why would you put all this effort in getting a slight upgrade when what you really need is a PF (like Josh Smith who I believe could end up in Houston this year)

    2. Dwight wants attention and money not championships, its why he has the Dwight lottery each year (he says he wants to win championships but remember talk is cheap)

    3. Shaq could be a huge factor in Dwight’s decision, after all he also was a dominate center who came from Orlando and had to deal with things he didn’t like in LA (Kobe) His words can hold weight

    4. Kobe’s career is OVER. All Nba.com people calm down i’m not hating, I’m just telling you I have better medical inside information than anyone and he is done. The bright side is he is finally realizing this and his saving grace before he leaves could be to convince Howard to stay. If Kobe is smart (and it looks like he is starting to come around) he will explain to Dwight that he is on the way out and the Lakers are Dwight’s now. This gives D12 the sole spotlight in LA with all the attention and money he wants.
    From this perspective Kobe’s ankle was a godsend to LA by forcing him out so a new star can come along and carry the franchise, had his injury not happened he would continue to ask for a ridiculous contract while sending all other elite players away from LA. Kobe is the major factor in the Laker fail this year and this way LA can move on.

    Im pretty sure he will stay in LA

    • Bobby says:

      @#4. You defiantly have a Naïve personality,
      Kobe is Kobe even if he plays with one leg.
      He has over come many injures and he will do it again. It should be an honer for Hayward to be a teammate of KOBE, and it certainly is a highlight on his résumé.
      Just for your better medical inside info., he just said he’ll be playing for next three years.
      I’m sure you know him better than anybody on earth Mr. Inside info.

    • MFFL says:

      SLIGHT upgrade over Asik? LMAO You’ve got to be kidding me.

      • He might be right says:

        Consider the potential of Asik to grow, and Howard might have peaked himself already (plus all the injuries and uncertainty…)

        Josh Smith is really what Houston need right now

    • ewinston65 says:

      Better medical Inside information than anyone else? You should know that it wasn’t an ankle injury, then.

    • Sonicus says:

      You’re delusional. Yes, Houston has Asik, but you can’t really compare him to Howard (slight upgrade? are you… nvm) And Howard>>>>Smith
      2. You don’t know what he really wants, so stop guessing, Skip Bayless…
      3. He doesn’t like Shaq, Shaq does not like him. Lakers won’t even bring Shaq to talk with Howard
      4. Kobe will still be an allstar, after next year he will take a major paycut and LAL will be in great position to sign free agents in 2014. I don’t believe in that Lebron James to Lakers bs, but they will be better.

      • bballjunkie1 says:

        I agree DH doesn’t know what he wants to a point but after these meetings he certainly will know what he needs. Too bad we give these guys superstardom before they have arrived as player/students of the game. Orlando didn’t have a system (coaching) that developed him. Horrible agent that played him to sign that year extension to make a commission thus creating the negativity about him. Hope Kobe will defer some scoring for him, Lakers get some shooters, or Houston, Dallas, Golden State, would all work for him.

    • Lakers! says:

      MIKE D’ANTONI IS A JOKE! NEEDS TO GET OUT OF LA, HE IS JUST HURTING THE LAKERS IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY, I RATHER HAVE MIKE BROWN THEN HIM. ENOUGH SAID…