Skip to content

Lakers need to answer big questions: Is Howard the future? Can he co-exist with D’Antoni?

Jan 24, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers head coach D'Antoni smiles with Gasol, Bryant and Howard during their NBA basketball game against Brooklyn Nets, as he makes his game coaching debut for Lakers in Los Angeles Reuters

The Lakers are not making the playoffs.

Some in Los Angeles probably think there is still a shot, but most of them also think their screenplay is just about to get picked up by a studio with Hugh Jackman attached to it. That and the Lakers in the postseason have about the same chance of happening.

With the trade deadline coming up in less than a month (Feb. 21), the temptation might be for the Lakers to make a move to bolster the team this season. They shouldn’t. Write this year off. They have to think long term. And I think the ever patient Mitch Kupchak or even Jim Buss are doing just that.

But that means they have some serious questions to answer about what kind of team this is going to be and whose team it is going to be. Any and all moves need to be based on the answers to these questions and to bring both the roster and coaching staff in alignment with these answers”

• What is the Lakers identity? Post players and defense? Up-tempo pick-and-roll heavy? Who are they?

• Can Los Angeles re-sign Dwight Howard and keep him as the future anchor of the franchise going forward?

• Can Howard co-exist with Mike D’Antoni in his system?

The Lakers want to keep Howard and sign him to a max deal this summer — even in an off year coming off back surgery he is as good as any big in the league. And he’s going to get back to his old self (or close to it) at some point. He is absolutely still a guy you anchor a franchise around. The Lakers are Kobe Bryant‘s team right now, but they can be Howard’s in a couple years.

On the other side of that equation, Howard, following his ugly exit from Orlando, isn’t doing anything this season to repair that damaged reputation. Packing up and becoming a free agent again certainly doesn’t help that. He gets more money in Los Angeles and he can win there, he’s likely going to stay.

But can he coexist with Mike D’Antoni?

And with that, how committed are the Lakers to D’Antoni? And to Steve Nash? Because if they truly are committed them, the Lakers need to make a lot of changes to the roster to get more athletic, to get younger and faster. That likely means a Pau Gasol trade at least. And they have to convince Howard to run a lot of pick-and-roll — and even then does he fit or just clog the lane. Howard is not a classic D’Antoni player in the least.

But if Howard and D’Antoni can’t fit together, which side are the Lakers more committed to?

Adrain Wojnarowski reports at Yahoo that Howard is likely to re-sign in Los Angeles, but it is D’Antoni that gives Howard pause. And that D’Antoni has never been Howard’s biggest fan.

Frankly, in a star player vs. coach situation the player almost always wins because there just are not many of them in the NBA. There are maybe 10 guys who are true NBA franchise anchor players and Howard is one — you don’t trade him and you build around him with a system that fits.

There are a whole lot of unanswered questions in this post because there are a whole lot of unanswered questions about the Lakers. And there are many, many more but they are all offshoots of the big unanswered questions.

You can’t just slap a bunch of superstars together and call it a team, you need an identity to build toward. We don’t know what that identity is for the Lakers.

The Lakers need to go into the trade deadline and the summer thinking about next season and what they want the team to look like. You can’t build a skyscraper without a blueprint and right now the Lakers don’t seen to have one, just a lot of parts laying around the site waiting to be put together. Someone needs to be the architect.

Latest Posts
  1. Thunder’s Russell Westbrook fractures hand, out indefinitely

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    There is no official timetable for his return, but we are likely talking 6 weeks or more he is out.

  2. Larry Brown on Sixers tanking/rebuilding: “It makes me sick”

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

    Larry Brown Larry Brown

    The Sixers CEO fired back, but taking on a Hall of Fame coach isn’t usually wise.

  3. J.R. Smith hints Knicks quit vs. Bulls, Phil Jackson says team not ready for “Showtime”

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks

    It’s going to be a rough transition for the Knicks. New Yorkers have to be patient (not always their strong suit).

  4. Report: Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao near three-year, $30 million extension

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    It’s a sign Dan Gilbert is pulling out the checkbook to spend.

  5. Ty Lawson tells a(n obviously great) JaVale McGee story

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Media Day Denver Nuggets Media Day

    The time the Nuggets center responded to a heckler

  6. Report: ‘Sense of optimism’ Tristan Thompson will sign contract extension with Cavaliers

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

    Tristan Thompson, Mike Conley Tristan Thompson, Mike Conley

    Cleveland, as of a few days ago, reportedly hadn’t begun negotiations with Thompson

  7. LeBron makes emotional return to Cleveland tonight, new Nike ad shows city standing together (VIDEO)

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    The season is about process for the Cavaliers, but tonight is about celebration of home.

  8. Pau Gasol: Marc Gasol signing with the Knicks is ‘possible’

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony

    Bulls center has discussed Phil Jackson with his younger brother

  9. Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Pau Gasol Pau Gasol

    Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.

Featured video

The list of championship contenders
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (8034)
  2. K. McDaniels (7265)
  3. K. Durant (7155)
  4. R. Rondo (6812)
  5. B. Lopez (6320)