In a similar fashion to the way he guillotined Stan Van Gundy and the city of Orlando to defer his personal failures, Dwight “The Head Hunter” Howard is looking to get current Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni axed.
This is becoming a bad habit.
In Howard’s end-of-season interview with Lakers brass, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports the all-star center took full advantage of his opportunity to do what he does best — pass the buck and throw a grenade.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and GM Mitch Kupchak centered around Howard’s frustration with D’Antoni; particularly, how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions while discounting Howard’s voice.
D’Antoni chose not to retain assistant coach Chuck Person, a Howard confidant, on his staff for next season. Also, Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford, who was with Howard in Orlando for five seasons, has become a hot head coaching candidate for this year's version of NBA musical coaches.
One source described the potential departure of Clifford, coupled with the loss of Person, as “removing the buffers,” between Howard and D’Antoni, and characterized the situation as “a bad thing.”
Why does Howard have to have a conflict with every coach? Why does he need a buffer to do his job? As the “superstar,” he needs to make sure everybody else is buying into the coach’s system. Eventually, we’ve got to start looking at Howard like, “Is this guy just a big baby/diva starving for attention?”
He feels he’s being “marginalized"? C’mon Dwight. The way you rise above mediocrity is to burst with superstardom. A coach can’t give leadership to a cat that doesn’t command the respect of his teammates enough to get them to follow him.
Howard whined and complained but never accepted blame for the poop he left on Orlando’s stoop. Instead, Howard bolted for the bright lights of LA and cowered under them. First, he was out of shape and his back was jacked. Then, he didn’t like Kobe, and D’Antoni wasn’t getting him the rock.
Despite all this, rumors of an LA shakeup in management surfaced on NY radio this week, suggesting that Jeanie Buss may take over Lakers operations with hopes that her long-time piece Phil Jackson would rise again — a move Howard favors.
The Lakers have got to be embarrassingly desperate or nuts to let Howard dictate coaching decisions. He’s yet to commit to them and came up smaller than Gary Coleman when a Kobe-less Lakers team got swept by San Antonio in the first round. Some might say he quit with that third-quarter ejection.
LA can throw $30.4 million more dollars to re-sign him, but it won’t guarantee championships, and that’s never been the Lakers way.