The Los Angeles Lakers have another busy summer ahead of them and the franchise’s future will hinder on what the team does this off-season.
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Center Dwight Howard will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, meaning he will have the choice to join any team his heart desires. The Lakers are hoping to sign him to a long-term contract, and with Kobe Bryant set to retire in the coming years, it is pivotal that the Lakers find a player to fill the void.
In Howard’s lone season thus far with the Lakers he experienced plenty of ups and downs, something that no one really expected. There is a chance that the big man decides to leave Los Angeles after the turbulent season and that will devastate the franchise. The front office will do what it takes to make Howard stay for the long run, but it appears as though coach Mike D’Antoni is a big roadblock in the quest to sign the center.
ESPN Los Angeles is now reporting that Howard spoke to general manager Mitch Kupchak after his exit interview and he voiced his frustration with 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 Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard’s voice.
It was clear that Howard was having trouble fitting into D’Antoni’s system and it did not seem as though the center was very fond of the head coach. D’Antoni and Howard’s relationship may continue to deteriorate if assistant coach Steve Clifford ends up getting a coaching job somewhere else. Clifford was an assistant with the Magic while Howard was in Orlando and he was someone that Howard developed a strong bond with.
The Lakers will have their hands full this off-season, especially if Howard’s criticism of coach D’Antoni becomes public.
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