Dwight Howard’s dislike of Mike D’Antoni’s offense is believed to be one of the biggest reasons why the center chose to leave the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets. Howard reportedly expressed frustration with D’Antoni’s offense and coaching methods in May, and he even admitted he wanted the Lakers to hire Phil Jackson as coach after firing Mike Brown in November.
On Tuesday, D’Antoni addressed Howard’s problems with him by making a fair point.
“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni told the LA Daily News while reportedly chuckling. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.
“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league. But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that. But he’s good.”
D’Antoni, who has admitted that he misused Howard and Pau Gasol, is referring to Houston coach Kevin McHale’s guard-heavy approach, which in some ways is similar to D’Antoni’s. That doesn’t mean the Rockets won’t do a better job of adapting their offense to suit Howard’s incredibly picky needs, but you can see the irony that D’Antoni is referring to.
Regardless of what went wrong, D’Antoni said he was as surprised by the lack of success as everyone else.
“Steve Nash and Dwight Howard on the pick and roll, and that’s what I do?” D’Antoni remembered thinking to himself when the Lakers hired him. “I just thought, ‘Boy, that’s gonna be a staple.'”
Now, Houston is hoping James Harden and Howard will be a deadly combination. While the Lakers tried desperately to keep the All-Star center, part of D’Antoni must be happy to see him go. In losing his center, he also lost a headache that likely would have become a migraine.
H/T Ball Don’t Lie