Lakers News: D’Antoni Thinks Howard Needed to Accept His Role

Lakers News: D’Antoni Thinks Howard Needed to Accept His Role


Orlando Magic v Los Angeles LakersAfter Dwight Howard departed Los Angeles to join the Houston Rockets, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni has been fairly quiet.

Many believed before the start of free agency that D’Antoni’s perimeter-oriented offense would be the reason why Howard would leave — which was eventually confirmed when he admitted asking for Phil Jackson.

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In an exclusive interview with Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News, D’Antoni broke his silence and discussed how Dwight Howard refused to accept his role and wanted to become a back-to-the-basket center:

“There was a lot of conflict, emotionally. People were not settled into their roles. But it’s funny because a lot of times players will say ‘I don’t know my role.’ It’s not that you don’t know it, you just don’t accept it.”

D’Antoni thought it was rather ironic that Howard chose Houston, a team that relies heavily on the pick-and-roll:

“The thing that cracks me up is Houston,  they do the exact same thing. And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s different.”

While Howard had his indirect parting shot for his former coach, D’Antoni complimented the All-Star but delivered his own shot:

“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league. But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that.”

When D’Antoni arrived, he envisioned having the best pick-and-roll big man playing with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. However, Howard simply refused to accept his role in the offense and wanted to be something he clearly wasn’t. Instead of playing to his strengths, Howard wanted to showcase his limited post-moves in Los Angeles.

D’Antoni will continue to take heat for Howard’s departure, but he did gradually adjust his offense that featured more post-ups for Howard, Gasol, and Bryant which led to a 28-12 finish.

With players that are excited about playing for the Lakers and D’Antoni’s offense, there should be less conflict this upcoming season, which will hopefully translate into more wins.


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  • Daryl Peek

    I 100% agree with this article. Howard’s refusal to play pick and roll was the number one reason for the bad Lakers team chemistry. Couple that with Howard hating Kobe.

  • ra

    It’s clear. The “D’Antoni/Nash” combo stressed pick & roll. DH was good (ok?) at that, but the Lakers tradition (for years) has never been pick & roll. It’s always been Triangle (for the last decade+, with PJ), or some other offense that ‘does’ feature a large center who specializes in ‘post-up’ (e.g., Bynum, Shaq, etc.).

    DH came in, probably hoping that developing his ‘post-up’ capability would help further his career, and actually I agree with that. Kareem is one of the best post-up players in history (‘the’ best? maybe Hakeem Olajuwon). DH was going to learn that from Kareem.

    However, the shift to D’Antoni pick and roll completely thwarted that possibility. Didn’t we hear about Kareem’s first meeting with DH, and then afterward … nothing? No more post-up for Lakers.

    Quite frankly, DH won’t ‘ever’ get better unless he learns post-up. He won’t do that with current Lakers. That made it very reasonable for him to want to leave. But his choice destination? A team that ‘features’ pick and roll, and relies primarily on it to win games, even more so than the Lakers! Chances are, DH won’t learn post up unless Kevin McHale decides to abandon pick and roll. That means re-working the ‘team definition’. A team works best when it has a well defined personality, and can reliably perform in that manner consistently. It will be interesting to see how Harden shifts his focus from pick and roll to handle DH’s wish for posting up.

    OK, actually, I really don’t care what happens to Houston and DH.

    Meantime, the Lakers are tooling up to be the 2006 Phoenix Suns revisited, but this time with an NBA Championship superstar (Kobe), and a World Class superstar (Pau Gasol) as the primary players in the offense. Let’s see how this experiment works out. It actually might be a good ‘next phase’ for Kobe, in the last few years of his career.

    • Daryl Peek

      I’m not a fan of the D’antoni system style of basketball. I’m old-school and prefer the big man oriented, inside out style of play. Showtime was a modified version of that featuring Kareem with the young horses led by Magic. I never understood why Howard didn’t take Kareem up on his invite to train him?

      Like D’antoni said, Howard is now in Houston where McHale runs the same system he does?!?

    • hookedonnews

      Yes, the Lakers have a tradition of big men in the post, but this is 2013. The league has changed. Howard doesn’t have the skills to play in the post. Every time he was given the ball with his back to the basket he was immediately surrounded by 3 players, more often than not stripped of the ball, or forced to take a bad shot. He’s not Shaq or Olajuwon or Abdul–Jabbar. He’s a great pick and roll center. He needs to understand what his strengths are and play to those. If he wants to improve his post game, fine. But he needs to stop the nonsense and listen to the coach. I don’t think the Lakers are going to be the Suns, but I think they will play some very exciting basketball if they are able to get the right players.

  • KcS

    To me everything this clown of a coach says anything is a joke and has no credibility whatsoever.

    People may agree to his statements on Howard, but it doesn’t change the fact that Dumbtoni himself didn’t “accept” HIS role either as head coach by adapting his stupid run-and-gun offense to an old, worn-and-torn team. It wasn’t even Dumbtoni who adapted the offense towards the end of the season — everyone knows it was the players who lost respect of this stubborn pringles man and adjusted on their own (e.g. hello assist-mode Kobe) and that made it look as if the coach had finally made adjustments.

    Not to mention his inability to keep a leash on Kobe and his playing time and his retarded 6-7 man rotation that destroyed the old-aged roster and never utilized all that potential of a team as a whole…it was always the players that carried this coach throughout the season and into the playoffs, NOT the other way around.

    LOL man Dumbtoni is a complete failure.

    • Cody Bennett

      What you’re trying to say is moronic at best the league is shifting away from true centers and going to a faster pace game. MDA’s offence is ran by more teams than you know and he is a good coach he just did not have the roster for his offence, however he altered it to fit the team better. Howard is not a good post player his foot work is just bad at best and he has no go to move that he can get with any kind of consistancy.

  • Cisco

    People are sheep and so the backlash on D’Antoni and Jim Buss has become a “fad” for Lakers fans. I am a Lakers fan as well and pay attention to what’s said and one of the things that Lakers fans keep ignoring is that JERRY BUSS wanted D’Antoni. So please, stop ripping these 2 guys. I understand frustration, but damn, you all act like you’re winners everyday of every year!

    As for last season, I blame circumstance. Lots of injuries, new players, new coach, new roles = doom from the beginning. I REALLY believe the team will be a whole lot better this year, with players better understanding their roles and, even better, embracing it. Don’t be a DUMB fan and drink the Kool-Aid, this is a team with lots of experience. You need a few stars and role players, a la 2000-02 teams. I think they have that. Let Nash, Gasol, Bryant do what they do to attract attention and Kaman, Young, Meeks, Farmar, kill’em with open shots and hustle.

    My 2 cents

    • 3339

      you honestly believe that Dr. Jerry Buss wanted dantoni?

      • Josh

        It has been widely reported by several sources/NBA writers, with inside info within the Lakers organization, that the D’Antoni hire was every bit a Dr. Jerry Buss decision as it was Jim Buss. The most recent to report on this was Ramona Shelburne of ESPN who in her article stated:

        “Later on, the elder Buss explained to his daughter that the final decision on the hire had been his, and it was not personal towards Jackson. He simply saw the NBA heading in a direction that seemed to fit D’Antoni’s uptempo style.”

        Either Laker fans just refuse to believe this, or they do believe it but are conveniently absolving Dr. Buss of any blame because of what he has done for the franchise and all, and thus aiming all their venom and hate at Jim who has yet to win anything as THE man at the helm. It’s time for Laker fans to just move on and unite. I’m not saying Jim Buss is beyond blame, but lets maintain some perspective now and give him some time to make his mark. Lets not forget, that his initial plan went off perfectly and he was royally screwed out of it by the NBA. It took an unprecedented politicking from the likes of Cuban, Dan Gilbert, and other small market owners, that made Stern throw the Lakers under the “Basketball Reasons” bus. Yet, the team did recover with a pretty solid plan B in Nash and Dwight, but it just didn’t work out. But lets be honest now, when they got Nash and Howard, I bet the majority was extremely happy about it. We just need to be patient for a little bit. They are positioned fairly well next offseason so it might not be a long wait at all.

        • 3339

          I think Dr. Buss was just trying to support his son. He had a bigger battle to worry about. If people saw the dantoni hire as his, they would leave his son alone. Dr. Buss is way to smart to hire dantoni. This was all his son. I don’t care what anyone says

          • Josh

            You’re entitled to take that stance. As for me, I know I’m in the minority, but I will take the word of reporters and beat writers with long time relationships within the Lakers and NBA franchises/offices in this matter.

            Dr. Jerry Buss is almost always right. Keyword is almost. He is not beyond making mistakes, and unfortunately, one of his last decisions is one of the very few he has made.

          • 3339

            Only mistake the great Dr. Jerry Buss made was giving Jim control of the team. He doesn’t interact with the players. He doesn’t care about them. He only cares about the guy he sees in the mirror

          • Kevin

            How about not overruling the D’Antoni hiring and going for Phil after Brown was let go? Oh wait, various sources have said he had a hand in it too. Many fans are just incapable (or in serious denial) of seeing and accepting things when they have firmly made up their mind. Dr. Buss is a legend and all, but it seems in a legacy of great decisions, one of his final decisions turns out to be one of those few clunkers. Even though he has kind of ceded to the background the past few seasons, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t paying attention and interjecting himself at times. As Mitch eloquently said: “Nothing, certainly nothing of substance, happened there without his approval”

  • Marty Susman

    D’antoni & Nash were both mistakes & allowing Howard to just walk because Jimm Buss didn’t say on day one that he would help Dwight get a sign n trade were all mistakes.

    • hookedonnews

      They didn’t want to sign and trade because they want cap space in 2014. Besides, the other team has to agree as well as the player involved. They wanted to offer Asik and Jeremy Lin. That wasn’t acceptable to the Lakers. Nash was not a mistake. Whether D’Antoni was a mistake remains to be seen. He’s a good coach, but he has to have the players (he had nothing but injured players this season), and those players have to cooperate and buy in. Howard did not do that this season. We’ll see how it works next season.

  • JellyBean

    Good points by D’Antoni. I think that players (Dwight mostly) did not want to accept their roles on the team and that destroyed team chemistry. I am done talking about Dwight. He never wanted to be here and now he is gone. I wish him well with the Rockets.

  • hookedonnews

    Why can’t players like Howard figure out that it’s not all about him? That maybe the team would be more successful if he just did what he was being asked to do? Really tired of these prima donnas that want to run the team, pick the coach, and expect everyone to defer to them. Good luck dealing with that, Houston Rockets.

  • 3339

    after all this dwight drama, I’m far from a fan of his, dantoni is just wrong about houstons offense. Kevin Mchale loves running his offense through big men. he didn’t do that last season because his roster didn’t fit his plan so he adjusted. expect the rockets to play through him, which will hurt them.
    I still don’t see championship team in houston. Quite honestly I think the Lakers have a better team than the rockets do right now.

  • Tony

    ummm… MOVE ON! I’m so sick of it! Howard is in Houston now, who cares what happened already?? Dwight did what was best for him and his family. He wanted to be happy, he didnt have the BEST season for us…but he was HURT (as were the rest of us, but WHO remembers THAT???) . why doesn’t anybody understand that??? I’m a die hard Laker fan, but he had a hard time and was scrutinized all year. He is one of the top 3 centers in the league, and is the BEST defensive center at the moment, next to Hibbert. If he had a good year and a great experience with the Lakers, he would still be here. But he didnt! The media blew things out of proportion all year, like HE was the only reason things werent going as we planned. Most of the fans being assholes, picking him apart. I felt bad for the dude at one point. Here is a guy, trying to give us his ALL, with a tender back that was JUST operated on a few months ago…. and WE give him a hard time????? we should have been encouraging him, instead of tearing him apart. NO WONDER HE LEFT!!! Now, WE are pointing fingers at him, and scrutinizing his character and being very hurtful towards him.. GROW UP! I understand the pressure in LA, but damn. His experience was NOT GOOD in LA. Maybe if we, as a hole, treat him and our other athletes like humans, he would have wanted to stay. Why would he wanna stay?? .. Put yourself in his shoes… HOW WOULD YOU FEEL??? He wants a chance to be happy people, put the past in the past, and move on with this now stacked Houston team that will be in the playoffs next year. Plus, he will be learning from one of the greatest big men ever, Kevin Mchale. SO, can we stop this stupid hate and immature posts???? Back off and move on. OK… I’m done with the Dwight Howard saga.

    Moving on.. look what we have NOW… a getting “young”er team, with Nick as nice sidekick to help Kobe facilitate the ball to, and a natural scorer that will also help with big shots and big scoring. AND.. he has something to prove. I watched him play at USC, and he was one of the best scorers in the NCAA at the time. He has a chance now to come home and play in the prime of his career… he’s like a poor man’s JR Smith at the moment, lol… and im sure he will be signed back after his 2 yr. There is time, and room for him on the roster. Wesley Johnson is a nice sneek pick for us. Drafted .. i think 4th, like 3 years ago?.. i might be wrong. He is quick for his size, young, and very efficient. Plays smart and is a great roll player for us. He and Ebanks will probably back up Nick Young, IF we dont just bring Nick off the bench to carry the 2nd team. Farmar…. (would so loose to me in ping-pong, sorry)… adding hustle, speed, shooting, penetration, passing we all should be getting out in more of a Dantoni offense now (I know the history, but get used to the idea. The league is changing people, Dantoni’s offense is made for the new, faster league that its becoming. we will have to really focus on Defense and rotations this year to play with the elite teams.) the lakers are familiar with him (Farmar) and how he operates, and will be a great guard with Nash. I honestly think Nash will have a good year this year. He will be in the best shape he can. He wont be the Nash of the past, but will be a true point for us. Always feisty and gives it his all, and a true “teammate”, he will help jell the team. His defense is really the key… Farmar will help with the foul trouble and limited minutes of Nash. As will the roll-players that proved themselves to us last year in the playoffs (Blake, Meeks, Morris and Goudelock).. we might have to cut one, or 2 and might have to be Blake? .. idk. He was awesome for us in the playoffs.. so who knows? I think we would have to pay the most for him?.. might be wrong… but is a scrappy vet that can shoot, and has proven to be clutch…. All good shooters, Morris and Goudelock just need confidence and they could be a factor if called on. Meeks is a keeper if u ask me. He is athletic, fast, great defender, doesnt turn the ball over, and can shoot…perfect to help out with the super quick guards in the league. now…. our BIG MEN? :) … I LIKE. The 2 IQ’s of Pau and Kaman … working together???? Getting Kaman was a GREAT pickup!…. Underrated! the Lakers fans will see. (If you didnt when he played for the Clippers) He will make Pau better, watch. not saying Pau needs to, (ONE OF the top Laker F/C of the LA EVER>?… think about it He has been on the chopping block for YEARS and has been a TRUE PROFESSIONAL his WHOLE time in LA. One of the smartest, best shooting big men in the game today. Great defender for the most part, due to his smarts and length. He is tougher than we give him credit for. We, as Laker fans need to start appreciating him a little bit more for what he has, and will always do for us. Kobe thinks the world of him. He will be our starting C/F this year.One of the greatest Laker C ever???.. (1.Kareem 2.Shaq 3. Mikan 4.Wilt 5.Divac/Gasol??? :) Kaman will work very well with him. I’ve always liked watching Kaman. He is cleaver around the basket, with both hands. Fundamentals are great, he will be a threat for us in the post with one of the best “back to the basket” skills in the league. U’ll see. Tough, good shooter.. and will work well in the pick and roll parts of our offense. A strong rebounder also, just like Jordan Hill < one of the best offensive rebounders in the league. It will be nice to have him back. BTW… do we still have Antawn Jaminson??… i know he is a free agent. He did VERY well for us last year and still has a great around the basket skills, and can spread the floor with his outside game. I'd be nice to see him back also. We still have to make some moves, but we are looking VERY good at the moment. IF we can somehow manage to get Paul George next year (hypothetically) we would be set for the next.. 7- 10? years, if we do. But sorry Kobe, U will have to take a pay cut…. BUT… is it worth it for #6??? ..just sayin. Be a leader and do what it takes. U really shouldn't feel disrespected, if its for a chance at ring 6. Kobe is an unknown to me this year. He is ahead of schedule, and things are going well, but there is NO RUSH!!! He's an old man now… lol these things take time. I wouldnt mind him missing the first month or so to make sure he comes back the way HE wants to. BUT.. with that said… KOBE is SUPERHUMAN. He will always be the most competitive man on the court, and will still hit game winners, and be one of the best players on the planet. …He has had many serious injuries he has played through (broken finger, broken wrist, hip, elbow, knees, shooting shoulder.. and the list goes on. He has been injured more that WE know of, because he is that type of a person. Why you think he shot those free-throws?? maybe 1 of 100 players have the balls to do that. Very painful, but still walked back on, made the free-throws, and walked off, by himself. If he was a Gladiator.. he would be Maximus… and will fight as long as he can. Trust me .. he will again, amaze us all. One of the top 3 players of ALL TIME, skill for skill, pound for pound. Don't worry about the Mamba, we will be just fine. :) WOW, sorry, went OFF, BUT……. These are the things, in my opinion, that we need to be talking about. NOT DWIGHT, or something impossible like… getting both Melo and Lebron. .. come on, get real. We were vitoed on the Chris Paul trade, remember??? anyway… If you took the time to read this… thanks, I didn't just waste an hour of my time. lol .. responses???

    • Rodger

      Now this is a TRUE Laker fan! He seems to have a great grasp on the game of basketball also. Unlike 90% of these people on here. Nice, well thought out post Tony. Hope to hear more in the future.

  • Paytc

    D’Antoni is absolutely correct in his assessment of Dwight Howard.

    I have said all along that Howard needed to bring the “defensive player of the year” Howard to the team.His points were gonna come in time, after Kareem, or someone… taught him a few offensive moves.Howard wants to live off dunks.He was jealous that Kobe Bryant was on a mission to win this years scoring title, period.But I blame Kobe Bryant in his poor decision to not capture the title the year prior.If it is one thing Kobe will regret after he retires, it will be his poor decision, when he sat out the last game and allowed Kevin Durant (who had completed his season 29 points ahead of Kobe) to win..All Kobe had to do was score 30points, which he could do in his sleep, and the scoring title was his.

    But Kobe wanted to be p.c.He wanted to do what was suppose to be best for the team.Even though the Lakers were a long shot to beat a much more talented ,and hungry, Heat team. Who had loss to the Mav’s in the championship the prior year.Kobe’s attitude was….hey we have a playoff game coming and I need to rest to get ready for that.If I was his older brother,or father,I would have insisted he capture the scoring title first.But of course none of the Kobe critics and haters out there will comment on how unselfish he was with that decision.That’s why Donald Trump is right when he says “you have to learn to care less”.Kobe cared too much about what others would have to say if he made an obvious attempt to win the scoring title. The title was deservingly his to win, if chose to capture it.