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D’Antoni says he really doesn’t understand Howard’s decision

Jul 30, 2013, 7:20 PM EDT

Mike D'Antoni, Dwight Howard AP

What was he going to say?

Mike D’Antoni spent his portion of the Lakers’ Dwight Howard free agency meeting in early July trying to show Howard how the center really did fit in the D’Antoni offense — how Howard is vastly better on the pick-and-roll than he is just getting the ball in the post. (He is.) That system is not all that different from what Houston ran last season, but Kevin McHale convinced Howard he would be happy in the Houston offense.

So in part because he didn’t feel he fit in with the L.A. offense (and in part because Howard wanted Phil Jackson over D’Antoni, and in part for a lot of other reasons) Howard moved on.

D’Antoni went on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles and talked about Howard’s decision (as transcribed by Dave McMenamin at ESPNLA.com). Basically, he shrugged.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or even to understand why he left a place like L.A.,” D’Antoni told “ESPN L.A. Now” hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on ESPN LA 710 radio Tuesday. “That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do….

“Everybody has got to make that decision,” D’Antoni said. “You can debate it all you want. Only Dwight knows. Obviously he didn’t think he would be as happy here as he will be in Houston. That might be the case and he had to make that decision. There will be a lot of speculation, we tried it, it didn’t work out and we go forward. So be it.”

The radio hosts also asked about Kurt Rambis being hired as D’Antoni’s assistant coach. It’s not that the pairing can’t work (although Rambis was surprised he was asked) it’s that Rambis’ ties to Phil Jackson bring a specter back into the building that D’Antoni has been trying to shake off.

“Phil casts a big shadow and he should,” D’Antoni said. “He had unbelievable success, he’s a great coach, but it is what it is. I’m just trying to hire the best guys qualified and Kurt is that. So, you don’t want to start, ‘OK, this guy is not quite as good, but let’s get him,’ because you’re afraid of something that happened in the past. We got to go forward and we got to try to make this team as good as we can.”

This season is going to see a lot of experimenting from D’Antoni and the Lakers as they try to get and keep key players healthy — Steve Nash and Pau Gasol say they are close, Kobe Bryant is shooting for Game 1 but is a crap shoot — then seen what combinations and sets work with the roster as it is now. The Lakers are not going to be a bad team, but the West is deep and just being okay is not going to even get you into the payoffs.

  1. dezglobal - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    It’s simple… YOU and KOBE suck to play for/with. No secret bud.

    • program33 - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:35 AM

      Agreed

    • arrondior - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      I think its more like the roster + Kobe is why he left.

  2. abchome - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Forget about your ex, move on and focus on your current team!

  3. jaerba - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Can people stop using ‘DNA’ in the worst and most incorrect ways possible?

    I think I’d even prefer them proselytizing than abusing science.

    • sodiumnitrate - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      It’s a metaphor, and it’s being used correctly. Just like litmus test, quantum leap, and the Rosetta Stone, etc., are used metaphorical beyond the initial meanings. Science is not being abused by this sort allusion. Don’t be so thin skinned, science can take it.

  4. deavn - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    I think I know why. Kobe is the primary scorer on the team and D’Antoni’s offense doesn’t allow Howard to be effective. There are other reasons too like the fact that he wanted Phil Jackson and they didn’t do anything and the fact that they have aging superstars. The Lakers’ ship is sinking slowly but surely and Howard just never really felt like he belonged there.

    • smoothaswilkes - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      do you even know anything about MDA’s offense? To say that is doesn’t allow Howard to be effective is just plain wrong. He offense is predicated on the high pick and roll. Howard has proven to be the best pick and roll big in the league forever and a day. Howard wasn’t effective in MDA’s offense last season because Howard wanted the ball in the post and flat out refused to play the pick and roll. Get your story straight

      • bougin89 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        Does that also explain why Pau was rarely used in the high pick n roll? To say that was all on Howard is a little suspect. Van Gundy got Howard to play pick n roll, what was the difference with D’Antoni?

      • borderline1988 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        They also need 3pt shooters. Howard is not a pick and pop guy, so opposing teams can easily send a help man to fill the lane when Nash and Howard are playing the pick and roll.

        Orlando had outstanding catch and shoot 3 pt wings and guards, so teams got burned when they tried to help on Howard rolling to the rim. That inflated Howard’s value as a pick and roll big man.

        The Lakers have some very inconsistent 3 pt shooters. Kobe Bryant is not willing to do much when he doesn’t have the ball…he’s not the guy standing in the corner waiting for a pass…he’s hanging around the perimeter waiting for plays to break down so he can take over with 5 seconds left on the shot clock.

        Ron Artest and Steve Blake were inconsistent (although when Artest was hitting his shots, the Lakers were substantially better).

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      Leading scorers on D’Antoni’s teams:
      1998-99 DEN: Antonio McDyess, PF/C, 21.2 PPG
      2003-04 PHO: Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, 20.6 PPG
      2004-05 PHO: Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, 26.0 PPG
      2005-06 PHO: Shawn Marion, PF/C, 21.8 PPG
      2006-07 PHO: Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, 20.4 PPG
      2007-08 PHO: Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, 25.2 PPG
      2008-09 NYK: Al Harrington, PF, 20.7 PPG
      2009-10 NYK: David Lee, PF/C, 20.2 PPG
      2010-11 NYK: Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, 25.3 PPG
      2011-12 NYK: Carmelo Anthony, SF, 22.6 PPG
      2012-13 LAL: Kobe Bryant, SG, 27.3 PPG

      Please tell me more about how D’Antoni’s offense doesn’t allow big men to be effective.

      • newnick94 - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        Who on this list was only a post player? Amare had a mid range, Harrington had some decent range, and David Lee can also hit a decent mid range. They could be hit running and and possibly pump fake or shoot if open. Dwight is 100% post/dunk. He has no true offensive game and won’t accept that. His post moves consist of a shoulder drop and hook or spin into a possible and-one. Mike D’s offense wasn’t going to slow down to hit Howard in the post consistently enough to appease him.

      • raycharlesj - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        Every player you mention is an undersized big man or hybrid center not a true center like 6’11” 270lb Howard and 6’7″ 223lb Shawn Marion is a small forward/ wing player not a power forward, Stoudemire is a 6’10’ 245lb power forward who D’Antoni moved to the center position that’s why his knees are shot now banging down low with true centers cost him, he is not a Tyson Chandler type true center player, David Lee is a 6’9″ 240lb Power forward who has trouble with bigger Roy Hibbert type players if you tried to play him at the center spot that is why the Warriors have Bogut and Landry, etc. D’Antoni has always benched his true centers and inserted Stoudemire Type players for offense and sacrificed defense and rebounding in his seven seconds or less offenses forcing players to play out of their natural positions, like he tried with 7 footer Pau Gasol last season, it is not a surprise Howard wanted to get as far away from D’Antoni as he could his ideal of big men offense has never produce the best results 2 Western conference finals appearances around 2004 is ancient history with that young squad he had.

      • mytthor - Jul 31, 2013 at 2:38 AM

        Please explain how being 1 inch shorter and 25 pounds lighter and playing the center position causes someone to have microfracture knee surgery.

        Your definition of “true center” is antiquated, there are only a handful of those players in the league anymore.

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:15 AM

        Great point asimonetti! But LOL @ the ’05-’06 version of the Matrix being a “slash” center!

        And raycharles, Marion played PF during the 7s.o.l. Suns teams. Where were you at?

      • muhangis - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        HAHA are you f’n kidding me ??? ………. McDyess is a small forward. Carmelo Anthony plays small forward at all times. Kobe Bryant is a typical size *guard.

        *you lost all credibility there alone, but lets go forward….

        David Lee is a 6’8 combo forward, already versatile but he gets owned by true 6’11 or 7’0+ C’s.

        Shawn Marion is a 6’7 , 220 lb. power forward also.

        And these guys are all consistent 20+ ppg scorers, so this other season or two another D’Antoni means nothing.

        But notice that you did not list one Center who is 6’9 or above, you only listed all PFs, SFs, or Gs….. but no Centers.

        And the job of a Center and Power Forward is different. A PF is given more freedom and space to roam around the court, because they are more able too.

        A Center by being a bit taller, his job is principally to hang in the low post. Dwight Howard is not a PF…. Howard is a 6’11 , 280 lb. Center!

        Dwight took Orlando to the NBA championship by playing his role as a C not a as PF, with very minimal talent around him! And to the Eastern Conf. Finals the year after!

        That is the huge flaw of your argument…… assimonetti

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:25 AM

        “6’7″ 223lb Shawn Marion is a small forward/ wing player not a power forward”

        For most of his career, but he spent the 2005-06 season playing Center.

      • bougin89 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        McDyess is the only one on this list that you might say plays with his back to the basket. Zero compare to Howard.

  5. xxbomberxx - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Dead horse…meet stick..geesh…

  6. cavemanna - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    No one on here played with Kobe . Where’s the expertise in the matter come from? Shaq? Dh12? Lol. Ok.

    • program33 - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Exactly. See. Regardless of what you may think, proven once again.. that there are plenty of people who you couldn’t pay to play with Kobe.:)

  7. jadaruler - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Lakers have to let it go. He didn’t want to be there in the first place and you did nothing to improve the situation.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      Lakers should have taught Dwight to love avocados. Houston has none.

  8. titansbro - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Um, the city of LA kinda sucks. Not that Houston is much better though.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      Tennessee, Tennessee
      Ain’t no place I’d rather be.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Yeah, right.

  9. pauliewalnuts90 - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    It’s because he’s soft, Mr. Pringles.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      With a name like walnuts it’s no wonder you don’t like soft things.

  10. gettinbuckets513 - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    The reason D Howard wanted Jackson was because he seems like the only coach that Kobe will listen to. I don’t care if you’r Michael Jordan, every player needs to be coached. Jackson would tell Kobe the truth while D’antnio acts as if he’s scared of Kobe. When you have a player refuse to come out of games, coast on defense because he’s playing the whole game and continue to take bad shots your bound to finish with an 8th seed.

  11. jerdogthompson - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Too funny, wouldn’t the average person consider that question “Moot”?

    Just saying.

  12. monkeyhateclean - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    d’antoni is horrible coach, Kobe is a horrible teammate, and no one outside of LA wants to live there. their myopic fans deny reality, making it that much more enjoyable for the rest of the world to watch such a horrible fan base watch their team crash and burn so embarrassingly.

  13. ghelton03 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    D’Antoni has already moved on. Howard was an Albatross around D’Antonis neck. Lakers don’t have the roster to win it all, but they are going to do way better with D’Antoni and without Howard.

  14. ghelton03 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Howard not man enough to play in LA. Don’t blame D’Antoni for that.

  15. navyeoddavee9 - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    asimoneti: the difference none of those leading scoring “big men” played with Kobe!

  16. jucam1 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    I know everybody has some view on this but isn’t L.A better off in the long run?… Howard wouldn’t have made them title contenders this or next year because he is not that good, and he would be playing with the world’s most overrated player in the planet in Kobe. I respect Kobe for the tittles he’s won, but he has always had a cast of players around him that won them for him. Perfect example is his 6 for 24 during his last finals game where he was a joke and the media gave him the MVP. If I am D12, and I am overrated like Kobe, why would I stay in LA and be responsible for Kobe’s 4 for 23 nights as he tries for the scoring record instead of a team win?
    I think D12 knows he and Kobe are a lot alike and need other players to help them win tittles so he rolled the dice with Harden. He gave away $30 M to get away from the Lakers, that tells you the story right there.
    D12 is an All Star and Kobe is an all star, but they are just unable to lead a team like LBJ, Jordan, Bird, Wilt, etc…. So LA shouldn’t be upset, it’s a great time to rebuild, and it’s the Lakers!… They’ll find someone like LBJ or Carmelo that will do the winning and still let Kobe be “Kobe” without letting him ruin your tittle with his awful shooting and non existing defense and allow the media to act like he’s a “leader” and still relevant. I think LA dodged a huge bullet in not having to pay D12 and keeping the money and room to get another star that can help Kobe get another ring and pretend he is as good as MJ

  17. crystalinadumass - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    D’Antoni’s style of basketball left the Lakers doomed from day one. His style doesn’t mesh with the players on the team. Howard made the right choice…RUN.

  18. blackmamba8 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    dwight coward need to realize that te wouldnt be the first option. He explored his options and went to houston we are happy for him. He will be the second or third option in houston . He didnt want to give the offense a chance and he didnt exert hisself on both end of the floor. Kobe sacrifices his game to get that BUMM INVOLVED . THE HELL WITH HIM

  19. 16x8equal49ers - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    “D’Antoni says he really doesn’t understand…Defense” is what the title should say.

  20. cpcheung - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    D’Antoni is a great coach !

  21. crystalinadumass - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    D’Antoni may be a great coach, but he’s not a great fit for this team. His style doesn’t mesh well with the players and the Lakers are slipping. D’Antoni & DONE.

  22. jollyjoker2 - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    He left because your a train wreck at the helm.. Why should he take the blame for your failure… This coach isn’t going to win anything. How LA thinks hes the man is beyond me. He makes a lot of coin in texas and he doesn’t even have to sweat. Why wouldn’t you go there.

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