It was a very disappointing season for the Los Angeles Lakers and their star-studded roster, so it should be no surprise to see that the way things ended have only amplified their unhappiness. For center Dwight Howard, that frustration boiled over to a meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak when he voiced his unhappiness with head coach Mike D’Antoni.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and Kupchak centered around Howard’s frustration with D’Antoni — particularly how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve for leadership and suggestions and discounted 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 before both of them came to L.A. last year, has become a hot head coaching candidate, interviewing with Milwaukee and receiving interest from Charlotte.
One source described the potential departure of Clifford, coupled with the loss of Person as “removing the buffers,” between Howard and D’Antoni, “which is a bad thing.”
With Howard set to become a free agent this offseason, the Lakers need to listen to what he is saying. If Los Angeles wants a clear shot at retaining Howard for the future, they may have to dump D’Antoni and find a coach that gets his approval.
You would have to say that re-signing with the Lakers is still the most likely option for Howard because of the financial advantage they have over other teams, but he is as unpredictable as you can get and you can never be sure what Howard will do next.
If he is unable to sort out the frustration with his coach and some teammates, Howard may prefer playing in Atlanta or Houston rather than returning to a place he is unhappy with.