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Lakers GM Kupchak denies he, Howard talked about D’Antoni

May 22, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni and Dwight Howard react on the sidelines as the Lakers trail the Los Angeles Clippers, and after Howard fouled out of the game, during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

Who do you want to believe?

Monday came a report from the very reliable Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com that in his exit interview Dwight Howard expressed frustration with coach Mike D’Antoni to GM Mitch Kupchak. Which isn’t hard to believe if you watched the Lakers at all this year.

But when Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register called Kupchak he denied they even discussed that (via Sulia).

Kupchak said he didn’t want any D’Antoni talk from Dwight anyway given Mitch’s insistence that Lakers won’t have any player dictate the coaching situation.

“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t let it go there anyway,” he said…. “I’m not saying they don’t have differences like with any coach or any player. I don’t think it’s anything that goes beyond.”

So what is reality here?

Let’s start here — there were only two people in the room. One of them is the tight-lipped Lakers GM who is a very good soldier, a guy who is old school and would not leak a private conversation, especially one that called into question the team’s coach. The other is the guy whose agent and people were all kinds of leaky during the Orlando exit debacle, to the point of harming the player’s reputation.

I don’t know who McMenamin’s sources were, but decide for yourself which side you think might have been leaking info here.

Then look at the complaint itself? From the original report, “the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice”

It’s not Xs and Os, it’s not touches in the post or system stuff, it’s not being listened to. It’s not feeling respected like the other veteran leaders of the team. This seems to be a theme from Howard — he is about to go through free agency where it’s not about the money (the Lakers win that, they can offer larger raises and one more guaranteed year) it’s about respect and feeling wanted. Howard wants to be recruited, wants teams — including the Lakers — to tell him how much they want and needed him.

So could you see a leak aimed at D’Antoni trying to get Howard in the conversation?

It’s really much more simple than that for Howard if he stays in L.A. — with Kobe Bryant out at the start of season Howard can grabs the reins of the team, he can impose his will and be the leader. But you do that on the court by both your play and demeanor — dominate, then be serious about your craft publically when the time calls for it. That’s how you get the respect of everyone and get your voice heard.

  1. paulhargis53 - May 22, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Howard is out of there! He didn’t want to be there in the 1st place.

    Missing Kobe for part of the year, no Howard. No bench.

    Chin up Lakers fans, at least you won’t get swept out of the playoffs….you won’t even make it!

  2. sportsfan18 - May 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Having the most talent, or being the best player on a team doesn’t make one a leader or the leader… It’s nice when your best and most talented player is your leader, but that doesn’t always happen. Many times, teams should’t follow their best player yet they do as he is their leader simply by being the best player. The best player is automatically the best leader on a team. Dwight isn’t and won’t ever be a leader… even after Kobe retires, whether he goes to another team etc…

    Now Dwight is a phenomenal talent, but in today’s sporting world, such headaches are so hard to deal with. It’s really tough in the NBA because one great player obviously is able to affect the game so much as there are only 5 players on the court for one team at a time. Being one of five means one may really affect what is happening. It’s tougher to do in baseball and in the NFL. This causes many teams to take a chance on these head cases…

  3. fiyeaglesfiy - May 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Got one more chance with this roster…anybody really believe D’Antoni can win a championship with these players?

    • mazblast - May 22, 2013 at 7:09 PM

      I’d be surprised if they make the playoffs again with that roster.

  4. logisticalvoices - May 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    To prove I’m not a Lakers troll (as I was accused of being recently, I offer the following comment:

    The Lakers are going to resign Howard and everything is going to be great. The reason why: because this is an amazing franchise. It’s the franchise of Magic, Kareem, and so many other Hall of Famers. D’Antoni will figure it out next year and, against all odds, they will win a championship. Then, everyone will be proud of all seventeen banners this shining example of an organization will have hanging from Staples Center.

    I mean no sarcasm at all. Happy now? I also have posted on another article this morning to prove that I don’t only post on Lakers articles. That should cover all of the complaints.

    • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      I agree that the Lakers have a great franchise, but they’re not magicians. I don’t think you realize the odds you’re and they’re up against:

      * D’Antoni is not a good coach, I don’t care what anyone says. He has a style that can be effective, but it defends on the team they’re playing. If they’re playing a non defensive team, it’s great. If they’re playing teams like Chicago, Memphis, or Indiana, they’re screwed. He isn’t a good enough coach to win a championship, let alone make it to the Finals.

      *I’m a die hard Orlando Magic fan. I had to watch Dwight take our team to a whole new level (the Finals) and then jerk us around for several months to a year until we were the worst team in the league. Honestly, I’m happy about it because we have a beastly young team that will be great in a few years, and our GM is a genius (Rob Hennigan). Howard has ego issues, and coaching issues. He hasn’t liked Van Gundy, Brown, or D’Antoni.

      *Kobe is on his way out, Nash is on his way out, Metta is on his way out, Gasol is on his way out… (in terms of age).Who does that leave you with? You’re in the same situation as Boston. One great player with a bunch of oldies that are on contracts, or that NOBODY wants.

      *In conclusion, you think you’re going to win a championship next season knowing that a) D’Antoni is at best an average coach that has never sniffed the Finals, b)Howard is weak minded and can’t carry a team anymore, c) you’re team is on it’s last leg health wise? Keep dreaming, man.

  5. topdawg4ever - May 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I love it- now we pretty much know that Dwight’s camp leaked the info. How do they think this will help them?

  6. peterm5 - May 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Mitch has some big decisions to make.
    Hey, he follows orders and gives Howard some cover with this denial.
    He makes Howard an offer after telling him that D’Antoni will be gone as well
    as Gasol. He also informs Howard that Bryant has agreed to be amnestied
    and will rehab a year and then sign a Laker extension at $8 mil a year.
    He also tells Howard that his good friend, Atlanta’s Smith, will be signed
    to play alongside Howard and Clark.
    Of course, Gasol goes to someone for a real point guard and draft picks as Howard
    also can’t see an old and oft injured Nash winning anything.
    Mitch tells Howard all of this all the while Howard won’t sign with the Lakers as he doesn’t have the stomach to be the “one and only” super star Laker center to never win a ring!
    Howard needs to sign a one year veterans min contract with the Heat. Win a ring to be
    validated in his own mind, then move on to the Hall of Fame!

  7. rayduqueiii - May 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I believe M. Kupchak that he said Dwight Howard did not discussed about M. Antoni when they talked together in the exit interview. I think Howard wanted to be the leader of the team. He will not become the leader of the team until Kobe Bryant is playing there. Kobe is the leader and it is his team until he retires.

    If Howard signs with my team the Lakers and Kobe retires in a few more seasons, then he will become the leader of our team.

    I think my team will be a better team next (2013-2014) season with or without Howard if all the players will be healthy all season. We will win the 2013-2014 NBA Championship.

    Ray
    Ray Duque III (GMBD), USA

  8. loungefly74 - May 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Dwight…make it all end and sign with the Lakers already!

    • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Me a few years ago:
      “Dwight… make it all end and re-seign with the Magic already!”
      Dwight signs extension.
      He claims, “I’m just too loyal.”
      He asks to be traded shortly after.
      We have the worst record in the NBA.

      Lakers think they’re invincible. It can happen to you just as easy.

      • loungefly74 - May 22, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        whoa…the Lakers are the crown jewel of the NBA. there are plenty of reasons to think they will rebound quickly…

      • loungefly74 - May 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        but this is La…not Orlando. big difference.

  9. rayduqueiii - May 22, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    With or without Dwight Howard, my team the Lakers will win the 2013-2014 NBA Championship if all our players will be healthy all season.

    Ray
    Ray Duque III (GMBD), USA

  10. khmerson562 - May 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Sign and trade Dwight to the Cleveland for kyrie and the # 1

  11. asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    I’m not a D’Antoni fan, but if that’s really Dwight’s biggest beef with him, that’s pretty lame. Kobe and Nash have 34 combined years of experience, Kobe’s won multiple championships, Nash has been playing deep in the playoffs since before Dwight was even in high school, they are two Hall of Famers with a ton of experience and respect throughout the entire league. Of course the coach is going to look to them first for leadership.

    If Dwight is going to have a beef with D’Antoni, he should be upset over the inability to take advantage of his and Pau’s skills on the court together.

  12. bucs24 - May 22, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Howard to the rockets, why dumbtoni and owners will run the lakers to the bottom of the standings so were looking at the next bobcats/hornets

  13. andrewproughcfe - May 22, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    If Dwight is leaking his dissatisfaction with Kobe to the press, he’s basically already gone. He’ll be signing with Dallas or Houston soon enough.

    • asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      Mike D’Antoni isn’t Kobe.

      • andrewproughcfe - May 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Read the story. The statement he leaked was that “the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice”. He’s expressing dissatisfaction with D’Antoni, but also with Kobe.

      • asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Not sure how you read that as dissatisfaction with Kobe. Do you read that as Howard having friction with Nash as well? I’m not saying he and Kobe don’t have friction, but there is no indication in this particular story.

      • andrewproughcfe - May 22, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        Why would the coach NOT look to Kobe for leadership and suggestions? Why would Howard complain about that?

        Seems clear to me that he’s taking shots at Kobe. Taking shots at D’Antoni is easy – he doesn’t even seem to have strong backing from the Laker management. But nobody is likely to get away with taking shots at Kobe.

      • asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        I disagree. D’Antoni seems to have Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss’ backing. I don’t see how this particular story has relevance to a potential beef with Kobe however. Do you think Howard is expressing displeasure with Steve Nash as well?

    • bnally62191 - May 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      Im confused with this as well.

      “Hmm… let see here… should I seek advice from a 5 time champion and one of the greatest players to ever play, or a center who has seen the Finals once, shoots less than 50% on the free throw line, and underachieves in almost every avenue possible…hmmm, decisions decisions.”

      Give me a break, Dwight. We in Orlando waited for you on hand and foot, gave you everything you ever wanted.

      • eerock41 - May 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        Agreed, Howard will never find the support he had in Orlando again in his NBA playing days. This city built him one of the best NBA stadiums there is. He got pretty much nothing but love from the local media, till the end. Just hope Laker fans see that he did the same thing here. He got a great coach fired., then still left. As a Orlando fan I was actually more upset that SVG, Anderson, and more recently Redick leaving the team.

  14. jgray30 - May 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Dumbtoni will be fired. Kupcheck is just trying to protect what’s left of Dwight’s reputation. Dwight….stfu. How about you tell your “camp” to stfu also.

  15. jollyjoker2 - May 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Dantoni is not gonna win you anything. Just realize that now before you get your hopes up laker fans. He doesn’t have IT. Not a great strategist or understands where players have their edges….Also, Dwight nor nash would have ever been on my team. Nash is older than dirt and Dwight is for Dwight.. .that ain’t gonna bring you a ring.

  16. chicagofan - May 22, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Howard is a jerk, but even though he seems to be a nice guy–D’Antoni is not a championship coach and Howard would be crazy to stay in LA if they keep D’Antoni.

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