Dwight Moved On; Lakers Still Trying


VIDEO: Kobe talks about recovery and friction with Dwight Howard last season

HOUSTON – It’s not exactly the House That Dwight Howard built. But it is the one where the All-Star center chose to sign a four-year lease, snubbing the high-profile and high-rent district of the NBA’s most glamorous franchise.

Imagine the first time one of those blonde, leggy Hollywood starlets was told, well, you’re not quite the stuff of everyone’s dreams and that’s a dose of cold reality still dripping off the Lakers as they practiced at the Toyota Center in preparation for their first meeting with their ex-teammate Thursday night (9:30 ET, TNT).

“He made his decision,” said forward Pau Gasol. “He thought it was the best for him. So you have to respect him for it and that’s it.”

If only.

While a contented Howard and the Rockets cruise along with the best record (4-1) in the Western Conference, the Lakers are once more foundering on the rocks of another difficult start, waiting for 35-year-old Kobe Bryant to return from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, hoping that 39-year-old Steve Nash can overcome the reality of the calendar and able to only look back at a lost season with Howard.

“A lot of things went wrong last year, for sure,” Gasol said. “There was a lot of adversity. Nothing clicked. It was a tough year for everyone. Not for one individual. Pretty much for the entire team it was a tough year to go through.

“I was definitely hopeful, but I knew there was a lot of work to do. You don’t win games just by showing up on the court, by wearing a certain number, a certain name. You gotta work. You gotta make things. You gotta create a chemistry. You gotta create certain habits on the floor. You gotta understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on them every single day…A different total system came in. A system that probably didn’t fit our personnel. There was just a lot of stuff. “

It was a season full of coaching changes and injuries and the constant recrimination of a relationship between Howard and Bryant that never seemed to develop beyond mutual suspicion and snapped like a breadstick when the 6-foot-11 center left roughly $20 million on the table in Los Angeles to take the Rockets’ four-year free agent offer and warm embrace.

After Howard jumped ship, Bryant made it immediately known that he stopped following him on Twitter. When the Rockets played in L.A. against the Clippers earlier this week, Howard told reporters that he keeps in constant contact with many of his former teammates, but no longer speaks to Bryant. A few weeks ago, Bryant said there was a constant tension between the pair last season.

“We have two different personalities,” Bryant said during an NBA TV interview on Tuesday night from Dallas. “There’s a certain way that I believe you have to approach the game in order to win championships. He had a different way that he felt like would be best and because of that it was tough to see eye-to-eye on a daily basis.”

Gasol said the only time the Lakers had fun playing basketball last season was during their playoff push over the final weeks when they succeeded in clinching the No. 7 spot in the West. However, they lost Bryant when he tore his Achilles’ tendon on April 12.

“That stretch was a little fun,” Gasol said. “The team competed. We were fighting to get in and that was fun. I think we had a couple of games here and there that we all kind of enjoyed playing together without too many issues. But for the most part, that wasn’t the case.

“There was definitely a lack of understanding and connection. I don’t know how much tension there was. There was days when it was fine and everybody was on the same page and when things get a little rough, usually that’s when the tensions occur and come up. It was a rough year, a lot of things didn’t go our way and that made it that much more difficult.”

Howard is currently averaging 17.4 points, 14.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots and wears a constant smile as the anchor in the middle of the Rockets lineup and in the locker room. Interestingly enough, the 10.8 shots and 9.6 free throws per game he’s getting in the Houston lineup are practically the same as the 10.7 and 9.6 he got a year ago in a Lakers offense where Howard often seemed to chafe as being an uncomfortable fit.

“Strange they do exactly the same thing here that we tried to do,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said sarcastically. “That’s fine. We’re cool.

“It’s too bad. We would loved for him to have been here in LA. It didn’t work out. Turn the page and go. That’s about it. We knew there were some problems. We didn’t know which way it would go. He picked Houston and now I’m sure he’ll try to make the best of it and he’ll make the best of it.”

There’s no question that Howard is healthier than a year ago, when he entered the season still ailing from back surgery, then suffered a shoulder injury while trying to contribute. Much of the time last season he was not simply physically fit to be the player the Lakers wanted and needed. Yet there was always the sense that he could never accept his place in the pecking order of a locker room where Bryant would always be the alpha dog.

Now with a younger roster that views him as a veteran leader, Howard is relaxed, almost carefree, enjoying being the center of attention, which is evidently what he sought most when making his career decision last summer.

“It was his first time being in a free agent position,” Gasol said. “He had the freedom to pick his future and he picked it. It wasn’t with the Lakers. It’s with the Rockets. So, good luck. That’s it.”

45 Comments

  1. ballplayer/22 says:

    everybody talks about ball hog check an see how many ALL DEFENCE OF TEAMS Kobe’s on NO i mean 1st ALL DEFENCE TEAM SORRY been on it means somthing the Lakers have nothing to cry about they have won more than any team except the Spurs since Kobe’s been there get a life nobody wins for ever hope your team can do as well i bet if hating was a crime you all would have life i know the cast on TNT don’t know every thing but look at the things they say about D Howard LAKER fans no worries been on top so long you know the haters coming like the late great AL Davis says JUST WIN BABY JUST WIN

  2. K-Russ says:

    The best part about being a Laker Fan is you never have to wait more than 5-6 years for another superstar. I’d say let Kobe finish his career however he feel like. He can ride out his contract, or take a pay cut for some star power, go out gunning… The thing is Laker fans will love him either way. It might take a little time but ne next dynasty is around the corner.

  3. Unkle Daddy says:

    I love how people talk about Melo, coming to LA, why what is supposed to happen has he saved NY like he was supposed to… Howard didn’t stay, probably because of Kobe, but they also will have no one around him when Kobe is gone. This Lakers is like the Lakers of the mid 90′s former really good players, mix with really young players neither able to get it down.

    • Chris says:

      This thread is a joke lmao. Houston is best in the west right now. Nuff said

      • laker says:

        BEST IN WEST….HAHAHAA..ITS EARLY..THEY HAVE ONLY PLAYED AGAINST 2 GOOD TEAMS 1-1..GOT SMASHED BY CLIPS AND WON IN PORTLAND…CLIPS SPURS WARRIORS STILL BETTER ..THEY PLAY NO D..TIME WILL TELL

  4. Amanda Greaves says:

    This is the fact. Kobe placed his nutsack on“s forehead when he was just a young rookie. That has stuck with Howard all these years. Yea he led his Magic to the finals, n faced n lost to who: Kobe. Anyone out there who ever thought they would be teammates this year is an idiot. Look at the facts, Howard wants to beat Kobe not join him and dominate. Lol he prolly thinks KB24 is done too. Come back n get The Lakers another 1 Kobe!!!!

  5. Kobe Bryant, as good as he is, is ball-hog. Not only that he also hogs all the spotlight. I don’t blame Dwight for leaving LA. It’s not his fault the Lakers were trash compared to their better years during that season. Lakers are currently not very good. Their best players are getting up their in age and are injury-prone now. I.E. Kobe. People say they’re gonna sign a big time free agent like Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo said he wants to retire in New York. If LA does sign a big name free agent it may just end up like the Lakers team from last year. Why? Because of Kobe Bryant wanting to be the alpha dog and hogging all of the spot-light.

    • He does not need Kobe Bryan to become a champion. You can’t teach some one how to be a champion. You can only learn how to be a champion by becoming a champion. Kobe Bryant is not the authority on that. Especially since he should’ve lost the Celtics in the NBA Finals since the Celtics were clearly the better team that year. However he had the refs in his back pocket during game seven of that Finals series. Dwight was clearly unhappy in LA and I don’t blame him for blowing off their money. He does not need Kobe Bryant to win a championship. No one does. You need another star sure but it does not need to be Kobe. Not at all. Howard has James Harden now. Harden is only going to get better and better. I’d rather play Harden or Stephen Curry than a aging, and now injury-prone but still deadly Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard did not LA at all. He can win a championship without playing in LA.

  6. Devis says:

    Coward

  7. BMwithMind2 says:

    Dwight Howard clearly has trouble understanding the mental aspects that’s needed to win a championship in the NBA. The reason NBA teams covet veteran players is not for their declining athleticism but for the mental experience they bring to the table about winning. That being said, if Dwight really wanted to be a NBA champion and not just be on a team where people simply look up to him, respects his current game and gives him a certain amount of the respect he feels he deserves with the possibility of winning a championship then he would have stayed with the Lakers and especially Kobe. Kobe is a player that doesn’t need to figure out how to win it all, he knows how to win because he has won it all; five times to be exact. Kobe is a competitor that would have criticized Dwight’s work ethic and his approach to the game to take his game to the next level and most importantly he would have taught him how to win not simply games but a championship. Yes Dwight went to the NBA finals but he lost to Kobe and the Lakers. LeBron is awesome but as he also said, along with many others, that by watching, training and listening to Kobe during the Olympics, he learned things that he needed to do to take his game to another level and that along with another NBA championship winner in Dwayne Wade in his ear, he also learned how to win a championship. If winning a championship was based on superior physical basketball skills then there are a lot of people that should have won one such as, Jordan,(in his early yrs), Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler,(in Portland), Jason Kidd,(in New Jersey), Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash,(2 times MVP), Allen Iverson Dwight Howard, LeBron James,(in Cleveland) and Kevin Durant,(the last 3yrs) to name a few. Having mental skills (and knowing how to win a championship) is just as important if not possibly even more so, then just having awesome superior physical NBA skills. With Kobe and the Lakers, Dwight would have had his superior physical skills be enhanced by mental skills taught to him by Kobe, the ONE player that’s won the most championships of ANY current active player and who is also one of the 50 greatest players EVER and backed by one of the most winningest & high profiled NBA franchises EVER!!

  8. debbie says:

    Am I the only Lakers fan who is happy to say good bye to Howard?

  9. CornHole says:

    haha Dwight & LA moved; the media still trying.

  10. perea416 says:

    This writer is SOOOOOO pro-Howard. The dude who NEVER plays defense. Yeah they’ve played ONE playoff team so far and got smoked. This writer needs a reality check. Oh well, it’ll come in May for them.

  11. pacquiaoverated says:

    no other NBA superstar wants to play with the greatest ballhog ever, imagine Mr Kobe ballhog shooting 35 times a game while the next superstar gets to put up 6 shots a game, no one wants to play with that guy wherein he should be the only star on the team the only alpha dog, he is just after more scoring stats, players like Howard should be saluted who ain’t after money, heck Kobe even said he won’t back down from his 30+ million salary talk about the greatest ballhog on and off the court

  12. flavio tranquillo says:

    DWIGHT HOWARD CAN’T SHOOT A FREE TRHOW AND DOESN’T HAVE ANY RELIABLE POST MOVE.

    HOW HE CAN BE CONSIDERED AN ELITE CENTER ?? JUST REBOUNDING DOESN’T MAKE YOU ONE OF THE BEST IN THE GAME.

    THERE ARE AT LEAST 5 CENTER BETTER THAN D12 IN THE LEAGUE RIGHT NOW (HIBBERT,NOAH,BROOK LOPEZ,MARC GASOL,COUSINS) AND AT LEAST OTHER 4 ON THE SAME LEVEL (CHANDLER,BOGUT,JEFFERSON,HORFORD)

  13. Blame game says:

    If there’s no chemistry within a team, there’s no chemistry. I’ve heard all sorts of things, people blaming d’antoni, people blaming kobe, and people blaming dhoward.
    Dhoward might be getting the same number of attempted FGs and FTs, but what does that prove? That he is as important to Houston as he was to LA? There’s always some inconsistency in the ‘Howard tales’ people try to spin. He has a much better future and chances to make a postseason run now, and the fact that people continue to criticize him for not being able to handle the ‘bright lights’ of LA is ridiculous. The LA front office did not put him or any of the Lakers’ players in a position to succeed, so he wanted to try something different. He left Orlando because of the lack of chemistry he had, left LA for the same reason, and now that he’s found some, we can grab our popcorn and enjoy the Dwight show again.

  14. Paul Wayne says:

    Please stop tying the Lakers with Howard. The guy is a chump…I’m sure you saw him sitting on the bench with three fouls against the Clippers with that stupid smile on his face. Maybe if he would at LEAST take free throw shooting seriously, he might be a contender. Dwight is in it for the money, he hasn’t got a back bone. I am sure he’s a nice guy, and I am sure he’s an incredible athlete but dude, there is no fire in this guys heart, as Kobe got to see first hand. Let’s stop talking about “Dwight” as a former Laker, and start talking about a real contender like the Pacers. No one cares about Howard.

    • DrSubZero says:

      Wrong Pual Wayne……if he was in for the Money, then why didn’t he take the extra 20 plus millions the Lakers offered him? You do know that this is basketball that we’re talking about, right?

  15. Adam says:

    It’s so nice to see that the moderators of threads like these are anti-Lakers. My comment was totally was not posted at all. Comparing mine from the ones you posted, mine was legit too. It was not even demeaning. I am disappointed by your personal biases.

  16. okc2014 says:

    I think it’s in poor taste and unprofessional when players use media time to discuss the past, ex-teammates, etc. It’s like talking about an ex-spouse when you are re-married, or an old job when you have a new job. Kobe sounds like a jilted ex if you ask me. Lets play basketball. That’s what Dwight is doing.

  17. sekousmitze says:

    1 – byebye d’antony.
    2- don’t sign the other anthony, carmelo.
    3-trade kobe, byebye nash

  18. Kris says:

    Howard won’t get a single Ring in his career

  19. Ace83 says:

    Are we still talking about this? Too many empty, pointless articles about Dwight and the Lakers or sensationalist nonsense about chemistry issues in Miami, which would of course be obvious four games into a season, right? Give me a break! The season has actually started but apparently there is nothing else to write about… SMH. How about finding something legitimate to report regarding some of the smaller market teams? Not only Laker and Heat fans visit NBA.com. But no, that might require some journalistic investigation, when clearly it is easier to repeat the same old trash and make stuff up.

  20. Lakers Fan says:

    At some point I guess you’re right Kome the Black Dumba. But to me it’s a bad management decision from the young Jim Buss by hiring D’Antoni, build a mediocre (at best) bench

    • slider821 says:

      this is the right answer. remember last year when they were all hyped up but had no bench, no one cared to mentioned their lack of depth since they had all the star power. Barbosa and Kenyon Martin were still unsigned when they started the season last year. Both of those guys would have helped a lot.

      I agree it was inexperienced Buss fault to neglect the bench and ride his starters the entire season on a coach who didn’t have time to implement a system before the Ls started piling up. How’d that end up? With Kobe going down on a serious injury and dwight left with no faith in the lakers.

      Should have kept mike brown, i won’t comment on whether he is better than dan tony or not, but the players were familiar with his system. Should have built up the bench a little. Would have paid off in the long run.

      FYI I’m not a laker fan or hater, just an outside opinion.

  21. lakersonlyneverclippers says:

    Everyone is worried about the lakers with kobe, wait until he retires. It took the bulls 10 years to become significant after MJ left them. After we lost magic suddenly, the lakers didnt see anything until 9 years later either. So say what u say abouy kobe, but if he is on the team, the lakers are a threat. Without him, they are not. No matter who the others are on the team, as proven last year with dwight coward as the center piece of the team. What did he do? Get himself ejected. Kobe would never hurt his team like that on the court purposely.

  22. Gillsy says:

    I agree to a point. If I was Howard I wouldn’t have gone back to LA with Kobe in my ear all day long. But Kobe has to remember as you said he is not the future of the Lakers and that he needs people around him for him to keep playing at his lofty levels to reach the playoffs. Cause Kobe, Howard and say Melo, sounds a lot better than Kobe playing ball by himself.

  23. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    People didn`t get the big picture. Kobe ruined LA next francise player. If Kobe try to work with D12, not only Lakers can start winning now but they`ll have D12 in the future. Who are you going to have after Kobe retired? I guess noone now and you all lakers fans can thank Kobe Byrant.

    Even if Lakers find a way to land Wiggins, Melo or the next superstar, as long as Kobe is here you can say goodbye to anyone.

    • lakersonlyneverclippers says:

      Everyone who worked with howard, including the legendary kareem abdul jabbar says howard just didnt give a damn about basketball the way he needed to be in order to be a laker. Just because u are on one of the best teams in history dont mean a damn thing if u dont want to work hard to achieve your goals. U and all these other people who despise kobe bryant for being the competitor that he is make me sick.

      • lakersonlyneverclippers says:

        Lakers should have never ever gambled on howard and kept bynum then none of this would even be happening. An injured bynum is more appealing to me than howard. And notice howard is a forward on houston, as he should be in the first place. He is too damn talented to still avg under 22 points a game, period. How can he be the very best center if he cant score?

      • Kome the Black Dumba says:

        Kobe’s competitive mindset or D12 work habit has nothing to do with this. I was just pointing out if lakers want to avoid the rebuild process then Kobe should find a way to work with another superstar.

        Seriously? A healthy Bynum is better than D12? A Healthy D12 lead Orlando to the finals as their francise player, beating Lebron’s Cavs along the way. Let`s switch places with Bynum and D12 and I highly doubt Bynum can lead that Magic team to finals.

        You are living in denial if you think Kobe has nothing to do with this downfall.

      • Ok looking back at what happened at LAL it’s easier to judge history compared to predict the future.

        But a year ago lot’s of NBA followers were saying that Mike Brown was replaced too early and Gasol should play center untill Bynum returns. In the mean time they needed to get a PF somewhere. They were right!

        What we are seeing at this moment is how you DON’T run your bball organization. I think that LAL is going to do something big with all good available players at the end of this season.

        And if they don’t….be prepared for some very very very poor years at LAL. Same counts for Boston. Both organizations are taking a big gamble.

      • don’t worry…the lakers will get melo next year

      • Eli Odell J. says:

        its not that he cant score its that he wont score…. I just don’t understand why…

      • rocketsliftoff says:

        its funny how all you lakers fans think players are crazy when they leave your team to go somewhere else. yall’s dynasty is over you a aging team with aging stars that cant get along and playing under an aging coach that is more of a celebrity than the players on his pieced together team. kobe needs to retire hes no longer significant. the lakers are done, the fans are like disgruntled employees crying about not getting a raise. gtfo!! dwight loves playing for houston and mchale, he saw the best oppurtunity in his career and he took it.lakers fans please quit crying because for the first time in 10 years your dynasty is no longer significant.

      • rocketsliftoff says:

        howard plays his role in houston! we didnt bring him in to score! he is here to be a defensive player, we have three point shooters all over our roster why the hell does howard HAVE to have more than 22 points a game?? thats why we have harden,lin,parsons,beverly,garcia-all 3 point shooters.i expect them to have 20 point games, i expect howard to own the paint and force players to shoot from the perimeter. Thats HIS job in houston. seems like hes doing a pretty good job to me.

    • ADubba says:

      Wow your not very intelligent when it comes to basketball he didn’t stay because the team itself was terrible and he was getting the ball about and the fact he didn’t like mike Dan’ to place it just on kobe makes me laugh to see someone so ignorant about the game

      • nick says:

        He didn’t like Van Gundy’s, he didn’t like Mike Brown’s, he didny like Dantoni’s and he wont like Mc Hales….lets see how long until Houston is looking for a new coach

      • rocketsliftoff says:

        unlike LA we get rid of the player not the coach, we don’t do celebrity center of attention bs in houston. play your position, do as your told or gtfo.

    • marlon green says:

      What are you talking about? If it wasn’t for Kobe the Lakers would have never made the playoffs last season. I didn’t see Howard gurantee a playoff spot for the Lakers. And all the REAL Lakers know Dwight was the problem. Magic Johnson said it and called him out and even Kareem had said it. And after Kobe himself willed the Lakers into the playoffs before getting hurt what did Howard do in the playoffs? Get ejected in the deciding game and swept by the Spurs. Dwight just needs to realize he is not as good as he thinks he is. I dont even think he is great. And a healthy Bynum is better than Howard. He can shoot free throws, block shots and has some post moves. All Dwight can do is dunk and block shots, lets see how his game is when he gets older and all his athleticism is gone. And Kobe shoudn’t have to change his game to work with Dwight, Kobe has 5 RINGS so Dwight should be trying to learn from him.