The latest news surrounding Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers should come as a surprise to no one. While most people feel that Howard will return to LA next season if for no other reason than the Lakers can offer him over $30 million more than any other team, the decision may not be that simple.
According to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin, Howard is reportedly frustrated with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. Howard was one of several Lakers to hold a personal meeting GM Mitch Kupchak after the season, during which sources say he discussed his relationship with D’Antoni.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and Kupchak centered around Howard’s frustration with D’Antoni — particularly how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to (Kobe) Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice.
Kobe Bryant is obviously the leader of the Lakers, but apparently Howard felt that his influence over the team was undervalued. That could be one of many reasons he has decided to clear his head before making any decision about his future.
McMenamin also pointed out that Lakers assistant Steve Clifford, who spent five seasons with Howard in Orlando, could potentially leave to take a head coaching job with another team. One source said Clifford’s departure would “remove the buffers” between D’Antoni and Howard and could result in clashing.
The Lakers obviously want Howard to return and the max contract they can offer him gives them a major advantage, but a certain former NBA coach could tell you all about how difficult Howard can make things when he doesn’t get along with the people who are calling the shots. If Howard is planning on staying in LA, the best thing he could do is hammer out the contract before the media makes things ugly.