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D’Antoni on running offense through Howard: “I think it was all (politics)”

Oct 29, 2013, 8:45 AM EST

Mike D'Antoni, Dwight Howard AP

If you haven’t heard, Dwight Howard wasn’t happy in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, and the feeling was pretty mutual.

What, you heard that already? Okay, during the preseason this whole storyline has been overplayed more than “Blurred Lines,” but as the season tips off tonight, the Lakers coach decided to answer a reporters’ question in a way to fire one last shot across Howard’s bow.

Sam Amick of the USA Today asked the question about the Lakers running their offense through Howard last season when they had a better fit on he roster in Pau Gasol (who some Lakers fans spent years calling soft but now idolize in the wake of Howard).

“It was very uncomfortable,” D’Antoni said about the Howard-Gasol dynamic last season. “I knew I was messing on (Gasol) last year. That’s not fair to him. But that was the situation we were in. How do we make the best of it? I was just trying to make the best of it. But no, it wasn’t fair to him.

“I think it was all (politics). It was all that. We wouldn’t do that (normally). If nobody had names on their jerseys, and we were just playing? You go through Pau. There’s not a question. No question.”

Okay then. Are we done here? Can we all move on now?

Tuesday night against the Clippers the Lakers will run their offense through Gasol, mostly because they don’t have another good option. Howard is in Houston, Kobe Bryant is still recovering, Steve Nash is not 100 percent, and if you give him the chance Nick Young might take 47 shots. Get the ball to Gasol in the half court and he will make the right read, keep the ball moving and score efficiently.

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The problem simply remains talent — you need it to win in the NBA and Howard has a lot of it (not all of it tapped into), plus the Lakers also will be without Metta World Peace. With a banged up Kobe these Lakers simply are not as good. Even if Gasol can be a focal point of the offense the Lakers lack the talent to be consistent.

At least with Gasol as the fulcrum of the offense the Lakers ball movement should be a good test for that “new and improved” Clippers defense.

Now, let’s tip off the season and speak no more of the Lakers last season.

  1. casualcommenter - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    And therein lies the problem.

    D’Antoni’s system on offense is not built for guys who want to continually post-up. It’s a system that emphasizes spacing and tempo. His ideal offense wants young guys to run and 3 if not 4 good 3-point shooters on the floor.

    For some reason, D’Antoni was hired despite the Lakers having an old roster that featured two bigs who want to post-up and only 2 above-average 3-point shooters (Nash and Kobe). Metta World Peace was an average at best 3-point shooter, and neither Gasol nor Howard was comfortable shooting 3-pointers or long-range jumpers, so the spacing got cramped at times. D’Antoni even tried having Pau Gasol try to play 18 feet from the basket, and unsurprisingly, Gasol’s effectiveness nosedived.

    Meanwhile, because of political reasons (and the fact that Pau spent a lot of time injured last year), the team tried to get Dwight Howard a lot of low-post touches. However, Howard was less than 100% last year and was turnover prone in the low-post, which hurt his effectiveness.

    The Lakers offense last year was better than most people think, but it definitely didn’t maximize the talents of the guys involved.

    • imakcds - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      D’Antoni realized that the personnel did not fit his game philosophy, and he DID try to adjust. The Lakes put together that playoff run and there were GLIMPSES of the Pick and Roll, and Gasol’s effectiveness in the High/Low offense was also displayed, but for some reason, Dwight REFUSED to continue to play WITH his teammates.
      Stop blaming D’Antoni.

      • JHathwell - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        Exactly this.

        As far as Kurt saying “can we move on now”, we all surely would just as soon as people start understanding what a corrosive force Dwight was and stop blaming D’ Antoni. Alot of us have been saying for months that D’ Antoni was essentially forced by Jimmy Buss to make Dwight feel pretty at all costs and he did his best, and that’s essentially what Mike D. is saying here.

        How can anyone ever think it was actually D’ Antoni’s choice to feature Dwight in the post over a guy with pau’s skills?

    • sportsfan18 - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      casualcommenter

      If you check the stats for the average 3 pt FG% in the league year by year and then check Kobe’s 3 pt FG% each year you’ll see that you were not correct in sayting that the Lakers have “…2 above-average 3-point shooters (Nash and Kobe).”

      Kobe is below the league average for 3 pt percentage so by definition he may not be an above average 3 pt shooter.

      Kobe’s career 3 pt shooting percentage is only .336%

      Let’s look at ALL 30 teams last season and their team 3 pt shooting percentages.

      26 of the 30 NBA teams shot better than .336% from three point range last season.

      Only 4 NBA teams shot worse as a team from 3 pt range and the 27th ranked team shot .335% from 3 pt range last season.

      Now, let’s switch from comparing the leagues teams last yr to Kobe’s career 3 point percentage to comparing the teams 3 pt shooting last yr to Kobe’s 3 pt percentage last yr.

      ONLY the worst, 30th ranked, NBA team in 3 pt shooting last yr shot lower than Kobe’s.324% from 3 point range last year.

      29 of the 30 teams shot better from 3 pt range last yr than Kobe did. Kobe’s 3 pt shooting percentage last season would have ONLY helped improve one team’s 3 point shooting percentage and that was the worst team in the league from 3 pt range…

      Oh, and if we were to go back to two seasons ago, the same would hold true. Kobe’s 3 pt percentage in the 2011/12 season was only high enough to help improve one teams 3 pt shooting percentage and that was the team with the worst 3 pt shooting percentage in the league.

      AND would you believe that if we were to go back 3 seasons ago to the 2010/11 NBA season that again Kobe’s 3 pt percentage that yr would have only helped improve the worst teams 3 pt shooting percentage. Yep, it’s true!

      If we were to go back 4 NBA seasons ago, then Kobe’s 3 pt percentage that season would have helped improved the TWO lowest teams 3 pt shooting percentage.

      No matter how you slice it, Kobe isn’t a good, above average or even an average 3 pt shooter…

      And who could forget Kobe’s 3 pt shooting percentage in the 2004 NBA FINALS…

      Kobe 3 pt Bryant shot 17 percent from 3 pt range during the series. YES, 17%. He made 4 out of 23 three point shots in that series…

      • JHathwell - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        Your comment doesn’t account for circumstance and lacks perspective. The %’s don’t take in to account how many of Kobe’s shots were contested or thrown up at the end of shot clocks and how many of MWP’s are wide-open, especially in the last few years when teams are openly daring him to shoot wide-open 3’s.

        If Dwight Howard had played the system they way it was meant to, those guys would have gotten wide-open looks all year, similar to what paul Pierce said he is now experiencing in Brooklyn. Something tells me that if Kobe got the kind of wide-open shots MWP gets every night, that number goes up.

      • jimeejohnson - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        Love Kobe, but 17% shooting sucks.

    • sportsfan18 - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      casualcommenter

      You also said that Metta World Peace was an average at best 3 pt shooter (and that Kobe was above average in this).

      Yes, Metta was at best average… I’ll agree with you there.

      But, since Metta shot .342% from three pt range last yr with the Lakers to Kobe’s .324%, just how did you rate Kobe as a better 3 pt shooter?

      Also, Metta’s career 3 pt percentage is .342% (same as his % last season). Kobe’s career 3 pt percentage is only .336%.

      So Metta not only made a higher percentage of his 3’s last season, he also makes a higher percentage than Kobe has for his career too.

  2. imakcds - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    dwight was adamant about playing the game ‘inside/outside’, but if Asik is at center, how will Dwight even fit??
    In fact, what makes you think Dwight will ALLOW Asik to play his position, center???
    Houston thinks the pick and roll will be a money play.
    With Hall of Famer Nash, LA Fans thought the same.
    What makes you think J Lin is anywhere close to the player Steve Nash IS???
    We also thought, with HOF’er to be Gasol, the High Low offense would be tremendous.
    Instead, Dwight’s REFUSAL to cooperate reduced Pau to his least productive season ever.
    Now, with the ‘lowly’ Kaman, you just watch how effective he and Gasol will be.
    Magic fans tried to tell Laker fans, and now Laker fans are warning Rocket fans.
    and all thru the turmoil created from one end of the country to the other, despite all the disappointed fans, Dwight WILL CONTINUE TO SMILE and HAVE FUN.

  3. kb2408 - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    “Howard has a lot of it (not all of it tapped into).” My question is; when is all this untapped talent going to be on full display? People say he’s just 27. But Howard has been in the league for nearly a decade. At this point, he is what he is.

  4. kingwithringz - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Politics?? What is D’ Antoni even talking about?

  5. kb2408 - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Allow me to explain. The LAKERS wanted to sign Dwight long term. To do so, they had to pacify him. Therefore, D’Antoni took Pau out of the low post and replaced him with Dwight. Just about anyone that has watched NBA basketball for the last decade knows that offensively Pau is far superior to Dwight in the post.

  6. chargerdillon - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    This is why D’Antoni should be fired. So….he’s the coach, but because Lakers management brought in Dwight Howard you play him at the expense of winning? BECAUSE IT’S POLITICS?!

    In what delusional reality do we live in where a coach will admit that his team isn’t successful because of the talent he was brought in to use.

    IF PAU IS BETTER YOU PLAY PAU. We have a damn yes-man for a coach who would rather lose and appease his bosses than create a winning product on the court.

    FIRE D’ANTONI PLEASE

    • zxrated - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      You need to wake up man. George Karl was coach of the year and got fired! If the FO tells you to feature said player they recently traded for to be face of the franchise, that’s what you do or they’ll get someone else to do so. D’antoni was hired knowing he had to do that. If Phil was hired he would have done the same. If you can’t see that?!?

    • JHathwell - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      Brother, who do you think was telling him to feature Dwight?

  7. mydoghasfleez - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Why do Laker articles still include anything about Dwight Howard? It demeans a storied franchise to still talk about such an immature sissy who could have included himself among the elite centers of all time, but is long gone and will never be better than he has been in the past.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      He’s a gigantic immature sissy, at least.

  8. Anoesis - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    “Now, let’s tip off the season and speak no more of the Lakers last season.”

    If only you’d made this decision about 30 “The Lakers sucked with Howard and they’ll suck without him” posts ago.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Nice.

  9. jimeejohnson - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    If it was politics: I think Dwight’s the Conservative and D’Antoni’s the Liberal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

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