I can’t say I’m surprised to hear this…
I wrote an article the other day about Mike D’Antoni and how he was losing the Lakers’ locker room. The player who I was most concerned with was Dwight Howard, who is a free agent in the summer and could leave if he wants to.
Now, according to Yahoo! Sports, my worst fears have been confirmed:
Bryant won’t chase Howard out of here, but multiple sources tell Yahoo! Sports that the only issue that would give Howard pause on re-signing with the Lakers would be D’Antoni. In the end, D’Antoni is a coach who fundamentally doesn’t believe in post play, who sees franchise centers as intrusive cloggers of the lane.
As the New York Knicks’ coach, D’Antoni issued a clear stance in organizational discussions on a possible pursuit of Howard: He wasn’t a fan. He told Knicks front-office staff stories about how the elders of USA Basketball preferred Tyson Chandler to Howard, and that the Knicks would be wise to adopt that thinking, a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.
Now, I still think it would be shocking to see Howard leave whoever the coach is: the Lakers can offer him a five-year deal worth $117.9 million as opposed to any other team with cap space who could sign him to a four-year, $87.6 million contract. That’s a $30 million difference. Who’s going to turn down $30 million, especially when you’re coming off back surgery?
The thing is, would you really want to lock in a player to a five-year deal to play for a coach he doesn’t like? You want a guy to be happy in a system so you get the best out of him – right now, Dwight’s hatred for D’Antoni’s coaching style appears to be growing daily.
So, should the Lakers fire D’Antoni in order to keep Howard happy and in-turn, re-sign him? Yes they should.
Some people think that the team wouldn’t fire their current head coach because they already paid $11 million to Mike Brown and would also are due to give $12 million to D’Antoni over a three-year period.
You’re telling me the Lakers – who were valued at $1 billion yesterday by Forbes – wouldn’t pay out a total of $23 million over three-years (Brown’s already been paid off with a buyout, by the way) to hold down a franchise center like Dwight Howard?
Players like (a healthy, motivated) Howard don’t come along often. Guys who can sell jerseys, tickets and help you compete for championship are hard to come by.
The Lakers aren’t afraid to put their hands in their pockets when the result is winning. For this reason, unless the Lakers suddenly turn it around and Dwight is happy, I’d be shocked if D’Antoni isn’t gone between now and the summer in order for the team to retain a content Dwight Howard.