Dwight Howard – though some of it is due to his own physical and mental issues – has been marginalized too often in the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense under D’Antoni.
Pau Gasol – the man that dominated in Olympics competition over the past summer and helped Kobe Bryant win two championships – has been benched in favor of Earl Clark, who doesn’t play like your traditional big man.
Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill were both in and out of the rotation at various times this season.
At this point, it’s obvious that two of the key components in Howard and Gasol – a frontcourt tandem that was expected to help the Lakers bring in another championship – would rather leave the team at some point than to play for a coach that won’t make adjustments in his system to fit their style of play. Check this out from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who hammered down hard on D’Antoni’s failures:
Bryant won’t chase Howard out of here, but multiple sources tell Yahoo! Sports that the only issue that would give Howard pause on re-signing with the Lakers would be D’Antoni. In the end, D’Antoni is a coach who fundamentally doesn’t believe in post play, who sees franchise centers as intrusive cloggers of the lane.As the New York Knicks’ coach, D’Antoni issued a clear stance in organizational discussions on a possible pursuit of Howard: He wasn’t a fan. He told Knicks front-office staff stories about how the elders of USA Basketball preferred Tyson Chandler to Howard, and that the Knicks would be wise to adopt that thinking, a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.
…D’Antoni has marginalized Gasol, leaving him livid and privately expecting to be traded before the February deadline for an athletic forward who fits his coaching designs.
The fact that Howard would re-consider the idea of staying with the Lakers at season’s end because of – and only because of – D’Antoni says a lot about the coach’s inability to utilize players out of his comfort zone.
Did Mr. Pringles take the coaching job just for the sake of having a job? If he’s not a “fan” of Howard, and if he never really wanted to give Gasol a chance to shine, how did he expect to be successful with this bunch? Did he think that everything would be okay as long as Steve Nash was running things? There is clearly a flaw in that logic, too, given who the point guard has to share the backcourt with. That’s not necessarily a knock on Bryant, but with two ball-dominant guards sharing the backcourt, someone was bound to be marginalized at times. Underutilized and Bryant don’t belong in the same sentence.
The Lakers beat the Utah Jazz with surprising ease on Friday, but it happened with Bryant passing the ball in a way he rarely does. It’s not something the team can expect on a regular basis, and the dark situation in Los Angeles remains fluid at best.
Onto other news from around the league, including D’Antoni’s thoughts on what he believes to be the source of the team’s problem: