The Los Angeles Lakers may have lost one of the best centers in the game this summer, but they also may have just gained better team chemistry as a byproduct of that.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mike D’Antoni hinted that he expects to see his team have better chemistry next season thanks to the departure of Dwight Howard:
[pullquote]”We’ve definitely improved our shooting and I think the chemistry will be better just because the uncertainty has gone away,” D’Antoni said. “A lot of people will know their roles better and what’s going on on the floor better. Dealing with free agency day to day, we won’t have those problems.”[/pullquote]
The “uncertainty” that D’Antoni mentions is obviously Howard; all year long, there were questions about whether he was happy with the Lakers, and nobody knew if he’d return to the purple and gold or if he’d bolt to another city. In the end, he ended up leaving, but D’Antoni anticipates that the team’s chemistry will be better thanks to the departure of the big man.
Even though Howard is known as a fun-loving dude, there were also times when one could argue that Dwight was a cancer in the locker room. According to various reports by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Howard once walked around the locker room while waving a stat sheet after a loss as he was apparently upset with the number of shot attempts he got that night. Dwight also reportedly mocked Kobe Bryant behind his back, which made his teammates feel uncomfortable. Simply put, Dwight’s absence from the Lakers’ locker room next season should be a good thing for the purple and gold.
D’Antoni also spoke about the new players the team has added, along with the potential they bring to the club:
[pullquote]The Lakers added Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson and veteran center Chris Kaman.
“We’re real excited about some of the possibilities and trying to develop some guys that will turn into good players,” D’Antoni said. “It’ll be good for them, good for the Lakers. It’s always exciting to have young guys like that who are willing to learn, willing to work hard.”[/pullquote]
Next season, the Lakers will be an under-the-radar team with under-the-rader players. Guys like Young, Farmar, Johnson and Kaman will all be looking to prove a point and have productive seasons.
This determination from the new players – along with the expected improved chemistry and a chance for Pau Gasol to once again be a main focus on offense – could mean that the Lakers will be surprising quite a few people next year; as long as they can stay healthy, that is.