Posted January 24, 2013

Could Mike D’Antoni’s coaching keep Dwight Howard from re-signing in L.A.?

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, Rob Mahoney
Mike D'Antoni and Dwight Howard talk during a timeout

Dwight Howard reportedly has an issue with Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy. (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Rob Mahoney

Dwight Howard’s future with the Lakers is very much an open question. There’s still ample reason to believe he’ll stay in Los Angeles to slum it out with one of the most glamorous and successful franchises in professional sports, but this season’s maladies have, at the very least, provided the backdrop for a perfectly reasonable departure. The Lakers have been that bad, and with internal frustrations mounting, Howard could seek greener pastures as a free agent this summer.

And if that winds up being the case, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports suggests that Howard’s eventual exodus could have quite a bit to do with his relationship with coach Mike D’Antoni. From Wojnarowski’s column:

This has rapidly turned into a lost season for Howard, but it would be foolish to declare his Lakers career a lost cause. For those who’ve called the Lakers on Howard’s availability — the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks — the message has been unmistakable: Howard isn’t available, nor will that change before the February deadline.

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.

The Lakers understand that Los Angeles gives everything Howard wants to be a global star, gives him the guarantee of a five-year, $100 million extension this summer. They don’t believe he’ll walk, and yet as one source tied to the Lakers and Howard says: “Even if they’re right, and Dwight stays, do you want Dwight unhappy and feeling uninvolved with D’Antoni?”

The notion that D’Antoni doesn’t believe in post play is less than true. Floor spacing is clearly paramount to D’Antoni’s system, but it’s not as though he has an established track record of marginalizing post-up centers; he never trotted Shaquille O’Neal out to the corners to hoist up threes, and beyond Shaq, D’Antoni really hasn’t had any conventional, post-up bigs at his disposal. Some of that is by team-building design, but we shouldn’t take that to mean that D’Antoni is categorically against post play. He simply believes what many basketball analysts know to be true: Post-up possessions are useful, but they’re ultimately less efficient than the derivative options of his spread pick-and-roll system — one that should be great for a player with Howard’s skill set.

Yet all that really matters in these cases is perception, and as long as Howard thinks that D’Antoni’s system doesn’t favor his abilities, it could factor in his decision this summer or continue to affect his play. Either way, that’s a problem for a Lakers team banking on Howard both in the present and for the future, especially considering that D’Antoni just scored a three-year, $12 million deal from L.A. on top of the severance salary owed to Mike Brown.

Even though D’Antoni hasn’t done a good job of managing the Lakers’ on-court problems thus far, firing him for Howard’s sake hardly makes more sense than when the Magic canned Stan Van Gundy for similar reasons. It’s crucial for coaches and star players to build a successful working relationship, but given Howard’s shapeless preferences, it may not be in a franchise’s best interest to cater so directly to his every want. That may put the team in a precarious position heading toward this summer, but nothing about the relationship between D’Antoni, Howard and the Lakers’ offense on the whole is beyond saving.

7 comments
My Barbaric Yawp
My Barbaric Yawp

Wojnarowski is petty. Sometimes I do agree with him, but seldom for the same reasons. He comes across as a writer who uses his position to retaliate against people who have denied him interviews or have somehow snubbed him.

 

 

reader4si
reader4si

I think he would/should.  Why play for a coach that his system is not favor a center?  Mike's style is good for college with a bunch of kids running the floor, not with the whole bunch of older players on the Lakers roster.  Wrong place at the wrong time for Mike. Young Buss just have to admit his failure and let Berni take over for the rest of the season.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

Nobody wants to play with Kome, Howard is out of there.

Steve91651
Steve91651

Howard has a weak mind, he is not a winner! The smartest move is to trade him for draft picks and another All-Star quality player. Cry baby D-Ho must go!

cint
cint

Howard is far too mechanical, Wilt would've eaten his lunch at both ends of the court, and he's not in the same league as Kareem and his Skyhook. Ever since West departed the Lakers have tanked on all aspects while other teams (GS Warriors) are clearly on the rise.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again just because D'Antoni is fired won't mean squat.  Remember he got Stan Van Gundy and the GM both fired in Orlando and he still didn't want to be there.  I have another theory, that might be credible, that he is purposely tanking out there, because again LA was his 3rd choice, wasn't his 1st or 2nd that would be Brooklyn and then Dallas, and I think he's gone at the end of the year no matter what and I think he'll also be smart and seek a trade after the season, as he could still get the max contract from the Lakers and the Lakers could get players in return

Martin4
Martin4

Howard is not a great post-up player. He doesn't have many moves or a soft shooting touch. He is constantly being stripped of the ball and as a last resort, a defender can foul him and send him to the free throw line. The best way to use him, offensively, is by pick and rolls, lobs (where he can use his athletic abilities), or scoring after getting offensive rebounds. Otherwise, his focus should be on becoming a force on the defensive end.